The Iteron-class cargo transport is cheap, fast, reliable and adaptable. Its many versions are used by conventional and capsule pilots for both military or civilian purposes.
Early in its history, Boundless Creation was plagued by executive rivalries that sometimes killed off promising projects in favor of personal agendas. Brutor engineer Dr. Borol Gerdald was the lead researcher on one of those projects: the first automatic flexible containment system. Modern versions of Dr. Gerdald's "auto-flex" make it possible to partition a ship's life support system into multiple isolated micro-zones, thus reducing or eliminating the need for internal structural reconfiguration when storing goods with mixed environmental requirements.
The prototype system, developed for use in station hangars, consumed a great deal of power and computing resources. Those qualities didn't endear it to Dr. Gerdald's superiors, but since his team was showing progress in reducing the system's resource requirements, he was allowed to continue his work -- up until the morning he walked into his lab space and discovered that his project had been shelved, his assistants sacked, and he'd been demoted to a subordinate role within a rival team.
Dr. Gerdald did not accept his demotion. He collected his project materials and walked out of the facility. Boundless Creation later alleged that before doing so, he beat his new boss to within a millimeter of his death. Though charges were never filed, the allegation was enough to discourage Core Complexion Inc. and smaller Republic-based research firms from hiring him. Out of obvious options and running short of resources, Dr. Gerdald decided then to try his luck in the Federation research community. He soon found a position with Duvolle Laboratories.
At the time, Duvolle was struggling to reap the benefits of its good fortune. It had begun to win military contracts, and the research and development outlays it'd made to support those were forcing it to slash operating costs.
One of the corporation's sore spots was distribution. Due to its involvement in a myriad of different research fields, Duvolle had commissioned a fleet of specialized cargo vessels (the majority of them from Roden Shipyards), and accumulated with it a cadre of hyper-specialized transport pilots and support personnel. Thanks to the fleet's motley nature, security and maintenance costs were unpredictable, and transport delays had come chronic almost to the point of being endemic. Duvolle's finance and distribution heads agreed the inefficient fleet should be scrapped for something more manageable, but they and their Roden Shipyards consultants struggled to create a single ship design that could fulfill Duvolle's quixotic shipping requirements without also requiring excessive downtime.
Dr. Gerdald's auto-flex was the tool Duvolle needed to fix its cargo fleet. The corporation selected the most durable ship model in their existing transport fleet, installed a smaller scale version of his prototype, and the first Iteron was born.
There are conflicting stories about how the Iteron got its name. One account says it was due to a Roden Shipyards employee's misspelling "interpretation" or "iteration" on a Duvolle invoice. Another maintains Duvolle held a corporate-wide ship naming contest, and the winning entry was the name of a bacterial DNA regulator. However, history is not unclear about how the Iteron entered the public market.
Afria Edmiette, now Duvolle's Chief Production Manager, began her career as a contracts clerk in a Duvolle shipping/receiving terminal. Not long after she was hired, she learned that the corporation's transport ships were staggeringly popular surplus items; shipping companies routinely bribed Duvolle maintenance personnel to notify them privately in advance of Iterons' being retired from the corporate fleet. Taking advantage of an internal employee suggestions forum, Mme. Edmiette proposed that Duvolle begin offering Iterons for direct public sale.
Encouraged by the sales numbers she offered to support her proposal, Duvolle decided to test market a scaled-down version of its corporate model Iteron, a ship that's now referred to cluster-wide as simply "Iteron". As with the corporate models, Roden Shipyards supplied the ship chassis.
The limited release sold out within days. A constellation-wide introduction met with equal success, as did a regional release at the beginning of the following year. By the end of that same year, the Iteron could be found throughout the Federation. Within a relatively short time, it was joined by the Mark II, Mark III, Mark IV and the soon-legendary Mark V model, each increasingly larger examples of the Iteron's fast, reliable and highly adaptable nature.
The Roden-Duvolle Iteron series soon became the most popular line of industrial ships in the Federation. With the indirect promotional assistance of distribution powerhouses like Aliastra, TransStellar Shipping and the Quafe Company, the Iteron also posed a growing threat to foreign manufacturers. The Republic's shipbuilders were particularly vulnerable, because at the time Iterons began to appear in the ship markets of Hek and Rens, no native concern had produced an industrial vessel that could compete with even a base level model.
When Boundless Creation learned of Dr. Gerdald's involvement in the Iteron's creation, it cried foul. It pursued a trade injunction against Duvolle and Roden, citing "theft" of its former employee's invention as an example of the Federation's "continuing exploitation of Minmatar ingenuity". Boundless Creation's initially accepting no compromise other than both corporations' ceasing to do business in Republic space resulted in an expensive, drawn-out legal fight, one that publicized its own financial instability and internal strife far more than it weakened its opponents.
Compromise & Consequences
Some legal scholars believe Boundless Creation's dispute with Duvolle and Roden may have inspired Directive Alpha Gamma 12, the article of the Yulai Accords that dictates the equal distribution of new technological developments throughout all four Empires. The delay in ratifying the directive did seem to coincide with Boundless Creation's withdrawing its suit and accepting its former adversaries' pro bono assistance in developing the first Mammoth, a vessel created with the specific purpose of being able to compete with the Iteron.
However, Boundless Creation did find itself paying a price for that ostensibly free assistance. While the auto-flex system employed on the Roden-Duvolle Iteron was grandfathered under Directive Alpha Gamma 12, the improved version created for the Mammoth (along with all of its other upgrades) was not. Boundless Creation was forced to share the schematics free of charge with the State, the Empire and the Federation, and as a result, received relatively little profit from its novel ship design.