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Who Invented the Screwdriver?

Who Invented the Screwdriver?

old screwdriver
The origin of the screw and the screwdriver is lost to the pages of history, though some believe the first screw-like tool originated around the first century. The first recorded screwdriver, though is thought to have originated sometime in the 1500’s as one is depicted in a manual from that era and various suits of armor exist with screws in them, and something obviously had to drive them in. The 1700’s boasts a few possibilities for an origin. The “tournevis” from France in 1723 appears in an encyclopedia, but not much is known beyond that. It’s also believed a flat-bladed tool in 1744 for carpenters is where the origin of the screwdriver lies. Both can be read about on this timeline. The big innovation came, however, in 1770 when Jesse Ramsden invented the screw cutting lathe which allowed mass production of screws with precise sizes. This first screw and screwdriver were slotted screwdrivers and changed the world forever.

Once the screw and screwdriver had been established, people started improving on the design and driving innovation. The first major innovation came in 1908 with square drive screws made by P. Robinson, presumably because he had the same problems with slotted that I do (they slip). The square drive became the standard for use in mass production as it could be driven in more quickly. Henry Ford was one of the first to adopt this screw. Square drive screws are still in use today as they are an improvement over slotted, however they can cause breaking of the bit or the screw if overtorqued.

screwdriver tips
The problem of overtorquing became more prevalent in assembly lines and a new screw was needed to secure a tighter fit and to handle the stronger torque provided by power tools. Enter the Phillips screw and screwdriver pioneered of course by Henry Phillips in the 1930s. The cross-shaped screwdriver and interface allowed the driver to escape and slip out if overtorqued, but allowed a much more secure hold than the slotted driver.

Since then, multiple other drivers and screws have been invented from the hex and the Pentalobe to combo slotted/Phillips, Torx and One Way. These came about for different reasons, but have served to accomplish different functions, namely to make it hard for people without the right tools to mess with them.

At, we carry every kind of screwdriver tip available and we have it from precision size, all the way up to standard sized and if it’s available, we also have an insulated version. We carry many well-known brands from lower end/standard use tools like Eclipse/Pro’s Kit or Elenco to more durable and higher end tools like Bondhus, Klein, Felo, Gedore, Knipex, Wera and Wiha. It would be impossible to list them all here, but all of these brands manufacture high quality tools so be sure to search for your specific needs.

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