Inventor of the easy screw

Unspun didn’t know how the Phillip screw came about. Now he does.


July 7, 1936: Get a Grip — Phillips Screws Up the Toolbox: “1936: Henry F. Phillips receives patents for a new kind of screw and the new screwdriver needed to make it work. It changes the worlds of mass production and machine repair, not to mention your home toolbox.
Phillips was a Portland, Oregon, businessman who invented something to solve a problem that few home repair folk or do-it-yourselfers even knew existed. In those days, if you wanted to drive a screw into a hole, you just grabbed the right-size slotted screwdriver and did the deed. The only thing you needed to puzzle over was the size. Too big wouldn’t fit; too small wouldn’t give you enough torque.
So why do you now need to grab the right kind, as well as size, of screwdriver? It’s enough to make you cross.
Phillips wasn’t trying to make life with hand tools easier. He was trying to solve an industrial problem. To drive a slot screw, you need hand-eye coordination to line up the screwdriver and the slot. If you’re a machine — especially a 1930s machine — you ain’t got no eye, and your hand coordination may depend on humans.”

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