H M. (anchovy) reviewed The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts -- From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers -- Came to be as They Are on + 297 more book reviews
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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 paperclip look the way it does? What makes Scotch tape Scotch?" From the author of "The Pencil"; also includes information on how zippers, Post-it notes, the pop-top can and industrial design itself came into being.
Rather than taking a "form follows function" approach, Petroski proposes a theory where artifacts evolve because of annoyance - the most annoying shortcomings of a tool lead people to correct those particular problems, and the successive identification and elimination of faults found in any given thing will fashion and re-fashion its form...