History of Tools

The Tools of an Ever-Changing World




History of Tools

The Tools of an Ever-Changing World

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Since the dawn of time, life as we know it has been undeniably dependent on tools. Tool evolution has been simplifying our lives and expanding our human capabilities. From the most primitive of simple rock tools 2.6 million years ago to the most complex and specialised tools of the 21st century we owe our history as well as our future to our tools. Tools have become so integrated into our daily lives that we would not know how to do most of the jobs without them. Just try to imagine how you would fix a leaking tap or a hanging kitchen cabinet if you had no tools at home.


First Tools

The first record of stone tool usage was in Gona in Ethiopia where very primitive pounding and cutting rocks were used on an ad hoc basis. This means that the tools were used only once and then discarded, thus each time a tool is needed a new one would have to be acquired. Only around 1.8 million years ago we saw great progress with the design of tools as they were now being made to be more ergonomic and considered handheld design elements. These tools were seen as the beginning of Acheulean (Acheulean, from the French acheuléen after the type site of Saint-Acheul, is an archaeological industry of stone tool manufacture characterized by distinctive oval and pear-shaped "hand-axes"). This also marked the end of ad hoc tool usage as the true value of tools had become evident. Tools were here to stay to simplify day-to-day activities.

The first record of stone tool usage was primitive pounding and cutting rocks in Ethiopia.


Iron to Improve Tools

It is said that around 1500 B.C people in parts of western Africa and southwestern Asia were the first to discover the unbelievable potential of iron and its potential use for the improvement of tools and weapons. Historians believe that this discovery may have been accidental when some iron ore ended up in a fire and cooled into wrought iron. Only 500 years later did this monumental discovery reach Europe and the news slowly travelled to the north and east through Greece, Italy, Central Europe and finally to the British Isles with the help of Celtic warrior tribes, whose main use for iron was war.

The implementation of iron instead of bronze and stone made life abundantly easier as it improved the efficiency and longevity of tools used for farming, war, and everyday life. Iron has been classified as an essential element for over 3,000 years now through its use in the industrial revolution and is even still instrumental today in the production of its more sophisticated form, steel.


The Maker's Marks

In the past, the manufacturing of tools was seen as artwork. This led to the implementation of maker's marks, which became widely used by tool makers who showed great pride in their work. These marks consisted of the name of the maker, the workshop and even its address. The maker's marks and locality of production directly influenced the quality perception of tools and therefore, even today certain antique tools are worth high amounts to the right collectors. This resulted in the falsification of maker's marks as counterfeit manufacturers tried to take advantage of these quality perceptions to increase their sales at the expense of the actual tool makers. Till today this very problem exists as we see numerous fake or imitation products trying to take advantage of well-known brands.

Manufacturing tools was seen as artwork and tool makers wanted to mark their products. Thus, the maker's marks became popular.


Modern World

In the modern world, it is almost immeasurable how far we have come in terms of technological tool advancements. Whether it is the incredibly precise and digitally integrated tools of a neurosurgeon, the rockets taking equipment to Mars or even the often-overlooked intricate plumbing systems hidden below our feet. Tools have shaped and carefully constructed every aspect of the world we live in today and will continue to do so with the world of tomorrow, the sky is not the limit!

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Even the simplest tools can empower people to do great things. 


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