This place matters

This place matters

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Don't be a tool

I recently came across a how-to document that contained the instruction use a Phillips head (x-shaped) screwdriver. The parenthetical bit seemed absurd to me - if a Brigid knows that a Philips head screwdriver is the one that's shaped like an x. Although, really, the screwdriver isn't x-shaped, it's the screw. But I digress as usual.
Anyway, it got me wondering how a Philips head screwdriver came to be so called, especially when I learned that Philips is meant to be capitalized. A little digging taught me that it's called the Philips head because a dude named Philips - Henry Philips, as a matter of fact - invented it. The generic name is cross-head, although Philips doesn't seemed to be trademarked.
The Allen wrench isn't named after the guy who invented it though, but after one of the companies that produced them, the Allen Manufacturing Company. The generic name is hex key, and Wikipedia says that it seems to have been invented by multiple folks at the same time. It occurred to wonder whether any consumer has ever actually purchased an Allen wrench, considering they come free with anything that requires even the least assembly. And some things that don't. On a related note, are you aware that consumers can purchase Sweet n' Low? I was under the impression that the only way to obtain Sweet n Low was to steal it from a restaurant. Why anyone would ever want anything to do with Sweet n Low remains a mystery.
A ratchet gets its name from a word meaning bobbin or spindle. Funny since ratchet sounds quite a bit like an onomatopoeia. The sound of a ratchet ratcheting is one of my favorite sounds. Up there with the sound of ball bearings.
I always thought a the name Swiss Army knife was a joking reference to the fact that the Swiss, by virtue of being neutral, has an army that does more fixing than stabbing. Turns out the knife is a trademarked name, and gets the name because the knife was first made for the Swiss army. But, you know, my origin is better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You misspelled Phillips in one of the paragraphs. Please delete this comment after it posts.