Half a century later, the simple wooden structure can still carry up to 1,500 pounds of weight. The pallet's look and function has never changed.
Among the world's most ubiquitous but unsung standards, the Euro-Pallet is now celebrating its 50th anniversary -- and nobody knows who thought up the specs. From Die Zeit, lightly edited from Google Translate (rough but serviceable, like the pallets themselves):
Martin Leibrandt is the managing director of the Quality Association [for] pallets in Germany.... When he took office a year ago, he was still skeptical about the object of his daily work. How exciting can such a pile of boards be? Since then, he he has become one of the convinced fans of the simple wooden structure [carrying] up to 1,500 pounds. "Think about it: how many things you are breaking, which were invented 50 years ago and still look and function just as before," says Leibrandt. "That's awesome."
Wikipedia has a great survey of palletology. See especially the section on phytosanitary compliance!
Image credit: epal-pallets.de.