The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0691136408/
A general history, and you'll find the section on coupling standardization all too familiar. Although the text leaves out one critical detail:
Prime Movers of Globalization: The History and Impact of Diesel Engines and Gas Turbines: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0262014432/
(There's but one picture of one of the huge diesel engines that power pretty much all large cargo ships.)
These "prime movers", along with the steam turbine, which produces most of the world's electricity, are all examples of rational or scientific design (compare to the cut and try history of the steam engine). The impulse to develop his engine came to Mr. Diesel during a thermodynamics lecture.
ADDED: And even more relevant to HN, the diesel engine did a pivot when it's intended (by Diesel, at least) primary use was supplanted by the AC electric motor.
The book is very entertaining and informative, though it has a rather US-centric approach (being Danish, I obviously looked for when Maersk would be introduced, but they are barely mentioned). I especially enjoyed the explanations of how shipping worked before "the box." Dockworkers' unions were extremely powerful, to the extent of introducing ridiculous rules. E.g. "seven people must be assigned to each hatch on the ship, even if there is not enough for them to move there, and they are not allowed to help crews at other hatches." They went to extreme lengths to protect their jobs, and ultimately failed because they would not accept that they could not stop the container.