Talking to Vincent Grey* on the phone, I heard some additional interesting stories about early container standardization. He talked about why the 20′ container is not actually 20′ long, and about the tests to determine the required strength of the top, bottom and sidewalls, things I did not address in my writings. His stories further illustrate the deeply multimodal origins of the ISO container and the three-way symmetry of embedded interests between rail, maritime and road transport. To get a sense of the issues, see his publication in ISO Focus (October 2007, p.27).
*Vincent Grey has been involved in container standardization since 1952 and was Chair of ISO/TC 104 on Freight containers between 1977 and 1995.