Government Creates Competition.
The production of commercial aluminum was a twentieth-century industry. A natural oxide found in bauxite mined directly from the earth's crust, aluminum was made by running an electric current through molten bauxite to remove ferric ore and silica. The metal was lightweight and highly tensile, a strong, cheap alternative to steel. For the first half of the century aluminum production was monopolized by Alcoa (Aluminum Company of America). During World War II, however, the government's enormous demand for aluminum exceeded Alcoa's ability to produce it. To make up for the shortfall, the government encouraged smaller competitors such as Reynolds Metals and Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical to increase their output; it also funded new production facilities, which Alcoa built and operated. After the war, in 1946, the government's War Surplus Properties Board, under the supervision of Stuart Symington, sold its...
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