It is a long-standing household tool that can make the task of fixing an item to a solid surface a lot more stress-free, and while many people will feel that they can do the same job with any pointed object in the right dimensions, a screwdriver is undoubtedly the best fit for the objective that it was made to fulfil. But who was it that first came up with one?
While the screw (a ‘conical helix’-shaped device for penetrating solid surfaces in an less damaging manner) had been around for quite some time (with its origins dating back to Ancient Greece and the historic engineer Archemedes), it was not until the late 15th-century that a way to control them more efficiently was developed, a hand-held metal device that was shaped to match an implant in the flat head of the screw, generally the straightforward ‘flathead design’, the basis of a shape still applied today.
While the exact date or founder is unknown, information on the screwdriver was first published in a manuscript (The Medieval Housebook of Wolfegg Castle) dated between 1475-1490, with claims that the design came from either Germany (schraubendreher [screwturner]) or France ( tournevis [turnscrew]).
Since that point, there has not been much development in the area of screwdrivers aside from more refined and supportive shapes (such as the Philips or Robertson head screwdriver designs), sizes to match varying screws, or making it motorised or automatic for the tougher screwing jobs, but a cheap, modern basic version of the device (flathead) is generally an item which could be found in any household in the developed world, sometimes even applying a purpose away from screws. An in-depth review of the history of the screwdriver can be seen below: