History of Electric Screwdrivers

Detailing a history of tools is not always easy, and in fact can prove somewhat difficult primarily because tools are often not seen as noteworthy. They’re to be used until they no longer work or something better comes along then they are often discarded and forgotten. This progress is a good thing for the most part, but an interesting history can be lost and tools that are every bit as interesting looking as an antique plate or piece of furniture are lost to time. Sadly, many tools like the electric screwdriver and the electric drill, no longer have a story to tell because they have been overlooked by those who collect and document things. That being the case, you can see something of the history with a few important dates and development of similar tools.

first electric drill first electric screwdriverThe first electric screwdriver was invented in 1923 by Black & Decker and these were attached to a power cord. The roots of the electric screwdriver can obviously be seen in the invention of the first portable electric drill which is similar in many, if not all respects. The first portable electric drill was also created by B & D, patented in 1917, but the portable electric drill had been in development since 1910. There were other electric drills before, however B & D made the first portable one and they stayed in the game ever since pioneering all the way and coming out with the first cordless drill in 1961. This of course was a tool that revolutionized the industry as it made work easier and more efficient. At a century old, the electric screwdriver and drill remain just as important and useful as ever.

flash gordon ray gun cordless drillThe technology has come a long way in the 100 plus years since the electric screwdriver and drill were created. The first portable electric drills were huge, two-handed machines attached to a cord and looking like something out of a steampunk story. Really cool but a bit cumbersome. Technology improved and got smaller allowing electric drills and screwdrivers around the world to become easier to use. Aesthetically, they looked more like a Flash Gordon ray gun than their predecessors, but still clunky. Since the appearance of the cordless screwdriver, the various manufacturers of electric drivers and drills have made them smaller and smaller while keeping battery and drive power to the point where many can be used with one hand. The recently launched Wiha SpeedE is an electric screwdriver that’s about the size of a normal screwdriver.

Wiha SpeedEThe SpeedE is touted as the world’s first “e-screwdriver.” At first glance you might think that Black & Decker were the first, but, “e-screwdriver” is a bit more than just an electric screwdriver. What makes it different is firstly it can be charged with a USB cord in an outlet or a PC. The other main feature is that the SpeedE features a clutch that, when sufficient torque is reached, stops the electric drive and allows you to manually turn the driver if you want to. Even more amazing, this thing is insulated!

The invention of the electric screwdriver and drill made a huge impact not only in manufacturing, but in home improvement as well. When they first appeared they were gigantic and clunky, but over time technology improved and now you can get electric screwdrivers that can easily be used one handed. By a child. Here at Haus of Tools, we’re proud to not only be one of the first to carry the SpeedE, but also other high quality electric tools.


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