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.

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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.