The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as They are. by Henry Petroski | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as They are.

The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as They are.

by Henry Petroski
     
 

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   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

Overview

   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.




From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
For armchair inventors or those who are curious about the way things work, this book offers hours of delight. Petroski (engineering, Duke Univ.) provides an intricate look, in lay reader's terms, at the technology and basic rationale behind a number of items we often take for granted. The list is comprehensive: kitchen utensils, zippers, tools, paper clips, fast-food packaging, and more. The text is far from a recital of mere facts. Petroski's anecdotes and stories about individual designers and inventors are told with warm regard. Petroski also provides illuminating thoughts on the theoretical, historical, and cultural frameworks that influenced these creations. Although this book will appeal to a somewhat specialized audience, many general readers will find it fascinating and educational. For circulating libraries.-- Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, N.J.
Donna Seaman
Petroski's "The Pencil" delighted readers with its insights into the ingenious design of a little-noticed, everyday object. His newest book expands upon this fascination with the "extraordinariness of the ordinary" in a series of linked investigations of the origin and evolution of various artifacts. Petroski scoffs at the phrase "Form follows function" and demonstrates how slowly and fumblingly objects are adapted to their uses. His account of the clumsy evolution of the fork, a relatively recent creation, is a prime example. Stating that inventors are actually critics trying to improve existing technologies and are, therefore, often stuck with entrenched failures of conception, Petroski illuminates the surprisingly entertaining histories of the pin industry, the paper clip, buttons, zippers, sandpaper, Scotch tape, cellophane, and Post-it notes. In a chapter on the development of tools to make tools, he delves into the manufacturing process and the sort of specialization that has resulted in 500 different kinds of hammers. A penetrating, anecdotal as well as philosophical look at how technology interacts with culture and why luxury is the true mother of invention. Watch for a simultaneous paperback reprint of "The Pencil".

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307773050
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/01/2010
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
575,217
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Henry Petroski is the Aleksander S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and Professor of History at Duke University. He is the author of more than ten books.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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