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My July fund-raising campaign, celebrating the 13th anniversary of the start of this website, has now ended. This was the second most successful monthly fund-raising campaign ever. Thank you again to everyone who has who donated or subscribed. It is difficult to explain what your support means to me.


You can still donate or subscribe to support my work if you wish, either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are four ways of doing so:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

America’s Iron Giants – The World’s Most Powerful Metalworkers

An evening pause: Heavy tech (literally) that makes everything go, was built with slide-rules and pencils — in feet, inches, ounces, and pounds — and still operates.

Hat tip Mike Nelson.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Dave Walden

    That was fascinating!

    Being reminded of such incredible productive achievements, I somberly reflect at what we now take for granted.

    I am also reminded of Ayn Rand’s fictional epic, “Atlas Shrugged.”

  • Ray Van Dune

    It is interesting to contrast these mammoth presses with the Giga Presses used by Tesla. These presses are much lighter, although still massive, and are horizontally-oriented.

    Rather than stamping out iron parts from billets, they produce castings formed by the rapid injection of molten aluminum, allowing them to produce major auto frame sub-assemblies at a rate on the order of one per minute.

  • Robert Pratt

    3D printing is now leading another evolution of the same materials science. Pulse power too. So wonderful. Too bad millions oppose the very industries that provide their affluent lives.

  • Allan

    The TV show How It’s Made covers, over and over, a full variety of metal forming processes used to make the things of our world, large and small. They go exclusively right into the factory to show the machinery, workers, and robots in action. The segments are all short. I jump ahead to the ones that interest me.

  • judd

    “Atlas Shrugged” does not seem so fictional now.

  • Andi

    Not only did they use slide rules and pencils, you can be sure that they made considerable use of the SWAG method in design and development – and it’s amazing how close those initial guesses were.

  • Jeff Wright

    Some people just have a knack for things.

    My Dad, however, would shove me away from anything I worked on—on account of me being a jinx.

    He drove my Ford Fairmont to Indiana and back on a visit to his brother’s family.

    I drive it five miles the next day—and it strands me.

    Same thing with his truck. I walk past a lawnmower—it quits.

    My combination locker at school opened for anyone BUT me.

    I’m the better idiot that engineers warn about.

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