The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artefacts - from Forks and Pins to Paperclips and Zippers - Came to be as They are

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9780679740391: The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artefacts - from Forks and Pins to Paperclips and Zippers - Came to be as They are
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Only Henry Petroski, author of The Pencil, could make one never pick up a paper clip again without being overcome with feelings of awe and reverence. In his new book the author examines a host of techno-trivia questions - how the fork got its tines, why Scotch tape is called that, how the paper clip evolved, how the Post-it note came to be, how the zipper was named, why aluminum cans have hollow bottoms - and provides us with answers that both astonish and challenge the imagination. In addition to an extended discussion of knives, forks, spoons, and other common devices, the author explains how the interplay of social and technical factors affects the development and use of such things as plastic bags, fast-food packaging, push-button telephones, and other modern conveniences. Throughout the book familiar objects serve to illustrate the general principles behind the evolution of all products of invention and engineering. Petroski shows, by way of these examples as well as a probing look at the patent process, that the single most important driving force behind technological change is the failure of existing devices to live up to their promise. As shortcomings become evident and articulated, new and "improved" versions of artifacts come into being through long and involved processes variously known as research and development, invention, and engineering. He further demonstrates how the evolving forms of technology generally are altered by our very use of them, and how they, in turn, alter our social and cultural behavior. In this wonderful mixture of history, biography, and design theory, Henry Petroski brings us to an understanding of an essential question: By what mechanism do theshapes and forms of our made world come to be?

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Review:

"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

About the Author:

Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University. The author of more than a dozen previous books, he lives in Durham, North Carolina, and Arrowsic, Maine.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780385364898: The Evolution of Useful Things

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ISBN 10:  038536489X ISBN 13:  9780385364898
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9780679412267: The Evolution of Useful Things

Alfred..., 1993
Hardcover

9781857932959: EVOLUTION OF USEFUL THINGS: How Everyday Artefacts - From Forks and Pins to Paperclips and Zippers - Came to Be as They Are

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Softcover

9781857931044: EVOLUTION OF USEFUL THINGS: How Everyday Artefacts - From Forks and Pins to Paperclips and Zippers - Came to Be as They Are

Pavili..., 1993
Hardcover

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