The Evolution of Useful Things
How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as They are.
How did the table fork acquire a fourth tine? What advantage does the Phillips-head screw have over its single-grooved predecessor? Why does the paper clip look the way it does? What makes Scotch tape Scotch?
In this delightful book Henry, Petroski takes a microscopic look at artifacts that most of us count on but rarely contemplate, including such icons of the everyday as pins, Post-its, and fast-food "clamshell" containers. At the same time, he offers a convincing new theory of technological innovation as a response to the perceived failures of existing products—suggesting that irritation, and not necessity, is the mother of invention.
Praise For The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as They are.…
"A celebration of inventiveness...By cataloging the clutter of our desks, closets, and workbenches, and giving them a human history, Petroski makes us feel more at home in our homes."- Newsweek
"Petroski is a valuable resource—an engineer who examines the simplest, most ubiquitous tools in our live with an appraising eye."- Washington Post Book World
"Mr. Petroski's case histories delightfully illustrate his thesis... You never know when you will turn a page and find some tiny corner of your mind enlightened."- The New York Times
"Petroski has an eye for the mundane that distracts and delights... [His] wealth of literary and cultural references runs from Aristotle... to Russell Baker... The book has substance."- Newsday
Vintage, 9780679740391, 304pp.
Publication Date: February 1, 1994