The Perfectionists by Simon Winchester
This is about the development of the concept of precision from the 1700s to today. Early craftsmen were accurate making one piece but the parts were not interchangeable to prior piece or the following pieces. Precision measurement and the development of machine tools allowed the production of parts that are interchangeable and allowed mass production.
The Perfectionists also covers the social impact of reducing the number of workers needed and the need for many craftsmen. Follow the journey of precision from a tenth of an inch on the first steam engines to millionths of an inch in modern manufacturing. The book is full of interesting knowledge about how the very important inventions came into being.
Author Simon Winchester introduces the minds and methods that changed the modern world from the Industrial Revolution to today, and explores fundamental questions about precision. What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?