The John Henry effect

Greg Irving, John Holden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The “Ballad of John Henry” tells of the legendary black American steel pin driver, John Henry, who swung a huge nine pound hammer driving railroad spikes on the Chesapeake and Ohio railway in the 1870s.1 John Henry was renowned for his strength among his fellow workers and could drive a steel pin into a track with a single blow instead of the usual three. The ballad centres on a competition between John and a mechanical steam powered drill, a controversial innovation that threatened to replace thousands …
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)f1804
JournalBritish Medical Journal (BMJ)
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2013


  • Automation
  • Behavior
  • Inventions


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