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9780679740391

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

Petroski, Henry

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9780679740391: The Evolution of Useful Things: How Everyday Artifacts-From Forks and Pins to Paper Clips and Zippers-Came to be as They are

   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.

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This surprising book may appear to be about the simple things of life--forks, paper clips, zippers--but in fact it is a far-flung historical adventure on the evolution of common culture. To trace the fork's history, Duke University professor of civil engineering Henry Petroski travels from prehistoric times to Texas barbecue to Cardinal Richelieu to England's Industrial Revolution to the American Civil War--and beyond. Each item described offers a cultural history lesson, plus there's plenty of engineering detail for those so inclined.

From the Back Cover:

"Very engaging and wonderfully informative...The Pencil unfolds a history of invention, craftsmanship, engineering, manufacture and business that is also at times a history of cultural life on both sides of the Atlantic...No reader of this book will ever be able to pick up a pencil again without marveling."

-- Hilton Kramer, Newsday

"So engrossing that I read it through in one sitting...An utterly absorbing history."

-- Martin Gardner, Raleigh News and Observer

"Beguiling...surprising, entertaining, informative. One could scarcely ask a book to be more!...Using the story of the pencil as a paradigm, Petroski shows us how the process of engineering unfolds and [how] the pencil is the end result of a process that parallels those by which products of much greater sophistication -- computers, for example -- are invented, designed, manufactured and improved."

-- Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World

"A serious and charming history...Petroski argues his case with wry humor and an amplitude of anecdotage drawn from many centuries and continents. The Pencil is that great rarity, a book that will appeal to ordinary readers and yet seems destined as well to become a minor classic in academe."

-- Cullen Murphy, The Atlantic

"You will never feel the same about the pencil after you read this terrific book."

-- Larry King, USA Today

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Petroski, Henry Author
Published by Vintage (1994)
ISBN 10: 0679740392 ISBN 13: 9780679740391
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Book Description Vintage, 1994. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "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. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0679740392

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Book Description Vintage, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New book. May have light shelf wear. Bookseller Inventory # BK0074034

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Book Description Vintage. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0679740392 Clean, unmarked copy. In excellent shape! I can send expedited rate if you choose; otherwise it will promptly be sent via media rate. Have any questions? Email me; I'm happy to help! We recommend selecting Expedited Shipping to get your book as fast as possible. Bookseller Inventory # SKU1032361

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Book Description Random House Inc, 1994. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # KB-9780679740391

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 201 x 130 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. 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?. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780679740391

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Book Description Vintage. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0679740392 *BRAND NEW* Ships Same Day or Next!. Bookseller Inventory # SWATI210874332

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 201 x 130 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. 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?. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780679740391

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