The History of Shipping Containers

The History of Shipping Container

Everyone worldwide knows what shipping containers are and what they look like. They’ve become an essential part of storage and shipping for many corporations and nations. Where did it all begin, though? The history of shipping containers is now well-know. Subsequently, containers have contributed to the evolution of worldwide exports for the better.  

This article will go back in time to describe how the first shipping container came about. We will also look into the exponential growth of shipping containers throughout history. Additionally, we will visit how it became one of the critical elements of modern-day exporting and importing. 

The Birth Of The Shipping Container

The earliest record of the shipping container being around was in 1956 by the American Malcolm McLean. While you’d think McLean was involved with ocean liners, he was the head of a trucking company. After realising that efficiency was poor, McLaren invented the earliest version of the shipping container to transport goods across the country. 

The key benefit of this discovery was to easily transport all your goods from ship to truck without unloading and loading the goods. 

This breakthrough was accomplished after McLean purchased the Pan Atlantic Tanker Company, which included many shipping assets. He experimented with several methods of crafting a suitable container, and eventually, he found the perfect form, which was then patented as a “shipping container”. A robust, theft-resistant and weather-resistant steel box. 

The Introduction Of Shipping Containers To Businesses 

The shipping container would become an integral piece of equipment for many large scale businesses across the US and the world. Changing the way companies saw freight transport and international export and imports. 

Important contents could now be transported safely with the reduced damage taken thanks to the firm walls of the containers. Moreover, the securing process was made so much easier, which took a lot of the workload off labourers.  

At the end of the 20th century, approximately 90% of the world’s cargo was transported via shipping containers. A fundamental piece of equipment that took just 40 years to become an integral tool for assisting global commerce. 

The Development Of Other Kinds Of Shipping Containers 

It didn’t take long for the shipping container to evolve toward several versions of new containers. By the 1960s, insulated shipping containers had become a standard method of shipping items that needed to retain a specific temperature. 

However, the 1970s saw the development of refrigerated containers, which revolutionised the shipment of frozen goods around the country and the world. 

The Future of Shipping Containers

More recent times have seen the modification of shipping containers into makeshift cafes, eateries and even houses. A growing trend towards recycling and sustainability has seen shipping containers become a building block for infrastructure instead of shipment. 

The future age of shipping containers will likely be looking to focus more on the re-use of shipping containers. While there are always shipping containers being manufactured, many are still operational and able to be used again. 

The development of replacement parts and tools for shipping containers has allowed repairs to become more common. Many people are very concerned about the worrying climate crisis. Recycling existing containers may aid in the fight for sustainable business and save the environment. 


At ContainerCo, we have several 20 ft shipping containers for sale in NZ that can be delivered to your desired location. Depending on the purpose of the container, you can also hire for the short or long term. However, purchasing the container can offer a more permanent solution to your needs. We have 40 ft, 20 ft and 10 ft shipping containers for sale NZ-wide. 

We also undertake container modifications in NZ for site office creation, break rooms and bathrooms and various other portable buildings. Dangerous goods, refrigerated shipping containers, and accessible containers with a side door offering full side access. Open-top containers can also be purchased through ContainerCo. 

Our containers range from 10 ft, 20 ft and 40 ft containers for sale. We have containers for sale in Auckland, Tauranga, Christchurch, Wellington, Waikato and NZ-wide. Or try hiring containers in Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, and NZ-wide. Buy containers that are entirely suited to your individual needs. 

Contact us on 0508 732 873 or request a free online quote today!

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