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Tuesday, January 8, 2019 

Technology company Wärtsilä has published a history of its last 50 years in business, to mark the 185th anniversary of the company’s original foundation.

Renowned futurist Alvin Toffler predicted the future when he visited Wärtsilä’s shipyards in 1983: “In the future, machines will do the perfunctory jobs that humans do right now. Employees need to be increasingly creative: they need to use their brains and question things. And the management needs to let them try and fail, because that is the only way to learn and create something new.”

Did Toffler’s predictions come true? What has happened at Wärtsilä after Wilhelm ‘Vikkelä-Ville (Quick Willy)’ Wahlforss, a true captain of industry and long-term chief executive of Wärtsilä left? What really happened when Wärtsilä Marine filed for bankruptcy in 1989, according to those in the eye of the storm at the time? How did the company become the global Wärtsilä of today, leading the industry by enabling sustainable societies with smart technology?

This book, Of Machines and People, brings together the stories of Wärtsilä’s history from the past 50 years. It is based on interviews with 59 individuals who have played various roles in and around the company, from industrialists to chauffeurs and engineers to salesmen. The book depicts the last decades the way the people who have been part of creating the new Wärtsilä experienced them.

Of Machines and People is said not to be a traditional version of a company’s history opus. It is an easy-to-read visual journey to the past decades of the Finnish society, filled with personal anecdotes and stories.

“Wärtsilä is an institution, and it has been a major employer and renewer of many industries throughout its history. Its history is basically the history of the Finnish economy, and almost every Finn has a personal link to the company in some way,” said journalist Pekka Vänttinen, who did the monumental task of composing the story from the interviews.

The Editor-in-Chief of the book was Atte Palomäki, Wärtsilä’s Executive Vice President, Communications and Branding. He says that in honour of Wärtsilä’s anniversary, they have donated the book to every main library of Finland. “This is a way for us to get our story within reach for everyone involved, and to give credit where it’s due. Within just one generation, Wärtsilä has renewed itself completely, and been able to take a leap from Finland to all continents. Behind the success there are thousands of experts, and we want to give thanks to each and every one of them with this book.”

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