Total Quality Management

August 25, 2009

A Brief History of Quality Control

gamespot_bts525_09Concerns for product quality and process control is nothing new. Historians have traced the concept as far back as 3000 B.C. in Babylonia.  Among the references to quality from the code of Hammurabi, ruler of Babylonia, is the following excerpt: “The mason who builds a house which falls down and kills the inmate shall be put to death.”

This law reflects a concern for quality in antiquity. Process control s concept that may have begun with pyramids of Egypt, when a system for quarrying and dressing stone was designed.One has only to examine the pyramids at Cheops to appreciate this remarkable achievement.

07 Cheops pyramid2

Later Greek architecture would surpass Egyptian architecture in the area of military applications. Centuries later, the shipbuilding operations in Venice introduced rudimentary production control and standardization.


Following the Industrial Revolution and the resulting factory system, quality and process control began to take on some of the characteristics that we know today.


Specialization of labor in the factory demanded it. Interchangeability of parts was introduced by Eli Whitney when he manufactured 15, 000 muskets for the federal government. This event was representative of the emerging era of mass production, when inspection by a skilled  craftsman at a workbench was replaced by the specialized function of inspection conducted by individual not directly involved in the production process.

Fredrick Winslow Taylor

Fredrick Winslow Taylor

Specialized labor and quality assurance took a giant step forward in 1911 with  the publication of Fredrick W.Taylor’s book Principles of Scientific Management. The pioneering work had a profound effect on management thought and practice. Taylor’s philosophy was one of the extreme functional specialization and he suggested eight functional bosses for the shop floor, one of whom as assigned the task of inspection:

The inspector is responsible for the quality of the work, and both the workmen and speed bosses [who see that the proper cutting tools are used, that the work is properly driven, and that cuts are started in the right part of the pieces] must see that the work is finished to suit him. This man can, of course, do his work best if he is a master of the art of finishing work both well and quickly.

Taylor later conceded that extreme functional specialization has its disadvantages, but his notion of process analysis and quality control by inspection of the final product still lives on in many firms today. Statistical quality control (SQC), the forerunner of today’s TQM or total quality control, had its beginning in the mid-1920s at the Western Electric plant of the Bell System.

Walter Shewart, a Bell Laboratories physicist, designed original version of SQC for the zero defects mass production of complex telephone exchanges and telephone sets. In 1931 Shewart published his landmark book Economic Control of Quality of Manufactured Product. This book provided a precise and measurable definition of quality control and developed statistical techniques for evaluating production and improving quality. During World War II, W.Edward Deming and Joseph Juran, both former members of Shewart’s group, separately developed the versions used today.

It is generally accepted today that the Japanese owe their product leadership partly to adopting the precepts of Deming and Juran. According to Peter Drucker, U.S. industry ignored their contributions for40 years and is only now converting to SQC.

Source: Total Quality Management by Joel E.Ross

Note: Please visit my new blog which I am developing for covering topics related to general management areas:



  1. I read about this story event in years ago with Hammurabi that he create the code of Hmmurabi or the history of it…It was so interesting to me especially for us teenager..

    Comment by Rolyn Pascua — January 22, 2010 @ 4:53 am

  2. I would like to get full history tqm from ancient era till now

    Comment by Ahmed Sulaiman — March 23, 2010 @ 11:25 am

  3. very well structured history for students of TQM.

    Comment by naveed rajpoot — March 12, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: