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1 Local Warehouse History of Science- Technology

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Evolution of Useful Things

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Evolution of Useful Things Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 the shapes and forms of our made world come to be?

Description:

Includes bibliographical references (p. 265-273) and index.

About the Author

Henry Petroski is Professor of Civil Engineering at Duke University. His previous books are to Engineer Is Human, Beyond Engineering, and The Pencil

Product Details

ISBN:
9780679412267
Author:
Petroski, Henry
Publisher:
Knopf
Location:
New York :
Subject:
History
Subject:
Social aspects
Subject:
Inventions
Subject:
Design, industrial
Subject:
Patents
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Series Volume:
vol. 1
Publication Date:
1992
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
xi, 288 p.
Dimensions:
9.53x6.73x1.12 in. 1.39 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Science and Mathematics » History of Science » Technology

Evolution of Useful Things Used Hardcover
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Product details xi, 288 p. pages Alfred A. Knopf Incorporated - English 9780679412267 Reviews:
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