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O'Really T-shirts

Conducting Black Operations in the Corporate IT Theatre

[Book Cover]


I designed the T-shirt after loads of people kept emailing me asking/demanding/pleading for a design which was backgrounded on black. The image was produced with Paint Shop Pro 5 using the ITC Garamond and Gill Sans MT Truetype fonts and a bit of time and effort.

Whenever possible the T-shirts upon which the image is laser printed is usually a Screen Stars (Fruit of the Loom) or Jerzee 363 type. Fairly heavy cotton, it shouldn't need ironing if you dry it by hanging it over something.

The simple screwdriver was preceded by a flat-bladed bit for the carpenter's brace (1744). The handled screwdriver is shown on the woodworker's bench after 1800 and appears in inventories of tool kits from that date. Screwdrivers did not become common tools until 1850 when automatic screw machines began the mass production of tapered, gimlet-pointed wood screws. In its early form, the screwdriver was made from flat stock; its sometimes scalloped edges contributed nothing to function. Being flat, the blade was easy to haft but weak when improperly used for prying. The present form of the screwdriver, round and flattened only at the end, was devised to strengthen the shaft and make use of readily available round-wire stock.

But the screwdriver's origins are much older than this. One noted author and university professor, Witold Rybczynski has written a well-crafted, thoroughly researched book: "One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw" (Scribner, 173-pages, $22). It is a relatively quick, easy, enlightening and entertaining read from which you will surface with a greater understanding of mechanical genius ... and the humble screwdriver.

His was a most scholarly undertaking, although it sprang from an editor's request for a magazine article about "the best tool of the millennium." He mulled over -- and rejected -- handsaws, chisels, planes, drills (not even considering the portable electric driver-drill) and was in a quandary until his wife suggested: "You always need a screwdriver for something."

He knew she'd hit the screw right on the slotted head. Rybczynski doesn't even try to explain why women, particularly wives, seem always able to see the obvious solution. Sorta makes me think that a woman probably invented that portable electric driver-drill. But smart fellow that he is, Rybczynski takes her suggestion and runs with it.

And in a wonderful bit of scholarly archaeology, he began seeking and sifting through old, even ancient resources, spending time in museums, rare-book rooms, tool shops and poring over old handwritten manuscripts and drawings. Back through the centuries, 18th, 17th, 16th and 15th, where in the lattermost he discovered drawings of armorers' tools that included obvious screwdriver appendages.

The turning of the screw research went even further, back to Archimedes and, later, Leonardo. And while noting that most mechanical innovations sprang from a need, such as ways to fasten together steel armor or to hold iron to wood, what evolves out of his research are brilliant examples of mechanical genius.

In his backward unscrewing of mechanical history, Rybczynski discovers a drawing of a screw-cutting lathe in "The Medieval Housebook of Wolfegg Castle," circa 1475-90. And in it, off to one side of the workbench-lathe, is what he assumes must be the first dedicated, sole-purpose screwdriver.

A tad earlier, Archimedes -- whom you and I remember as the fellow who ran naked through the streets shouting "Eureka" after devising the water-displacement measurement of gold in a ceremonial wreath -- invented a water screw, a device for lifting water. He was born in the Greek city-state of Syracuse on the island of Sicily, long before there were patents or even Craftsman tools.

Every bit as fascinating is Rybczynski's exposition of modern screw developments, including how brothers Job and William Wyatt of Staffordshire, England, developed machinery to make screws, which until then were pretty much handmade. Twenty years before the Civil War, Cullen Whipple, a mechanic from Providence, R.I., invented an entirely mechanical means of screw production.

Canadian Peter Robertson, a young pitchman for an American screw company, later invented the square-socket-head screw, which remains one of my favorites because it holds firmly onto the bit and can be driven with one hand -- without the screwdriver camming off to one side. Also noted is a Portland, Ore., fellow, Henry F. Phillips, who improved on another guy's cruciform screw head slot configuration, giving us what today is still commonly called, and used as, the Phillips screw.

Regulating screws, which gave machinists the means of making precision tools, also were part of the screw's evolution. In the 18th century, American and British machining geniuses invented and made regulating screws that allowed precision machining of large metal items. They built micrometers able to measure within one-millionth of an inch.

Taken from

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