Forbes: The 20 Most Important Tools Jason 22 Mar 2006

21 comments Latest by John

What do the Forbes 20 Most Important Tools have in common? They all do one thing really well. They don’t try to solve all the problems, they just solve one (or a few closely related problems) really well.

The candle gives light. The level keeps things straight. The watch tells time. The pot lets us cook. The scale weighs things. The fish hook catches you dinner.

Focused tools that make things easier. Those are always the best tools.

21 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Daniel 22 Mar 06

What’s wrong with eye glasses having detachable fish hook ends and an expanding nose arch to convert them to a full blown scale. :0

Another Daniel 22 Mar 06

But what about the knife?

Labrat 22 Mar 06

Err… what about the computer? GASP!?

Drew 22 Mar 06

Now why didn’t they include rope? Harnesses, sailing vessels, etc, all rely on it.

Drew 22 Mar 06

Now why didn’t they include rope? Harnesses, sailing vessels, etc, all rely on it.

Drew 22 Mar 06

And, of course, yarn and thread are essentially “rope” meaning that modern textiles also spring from the invention of rope.

Robert G 22 Mar 06

I guess “Swiss Army Knife” didn’t stand a chance.

Derek Scruggs 22 Mar 06

Interesting that they don’t include the computer, which is the first tool designed to solve problems its creators didn’t know existed.

Mike 22 Mar 06

No Windows?!? What hacks put this list together? ;)

Tom 22 Mar 06

If you read the article, they limited the results to “hand-wielded implements” which is why obvious inventions like the wheel, weren’t included.

That and the fact that 6 of the top 20 things are different variations of knife make this this list more of a novelty and less of a topic worth any serious discussion, in my opinion.

MH 22 Mar 06

@Derek: Interesting that they donít include the computer, which is the first tool designed to solve problems its creators didnít know existed.

Which means it doesn’t do one thing really well. Computers, and computer software, suck in comparison to really focused tools like these.

I wouldn’t exactly say it was designed to solve unknown problems. You have to know the problem to design a solution. Computers were designed to tackle lots of tasks; quality is a different matter. The kinds of things computers are best at are things that most people don’t care about.

Jonathan M 22 Mar 06

“The Universe is difficult to understand because it is obvious” - Albert Einstein

I guess that’s the reason ‘simple’ solutions are always HARD to come by. I can remember that there was (still selling I guess) a product that simply sewn together a glove and an icescraper for scraping ice off on your car’s windows during winter. So obvious and so silly but it sold millions.

Jonathan M 22 Mar 06

“The Universe is difficult to comprehen because it is obvious” - Albert Einstein

I guess that’s the reason ‘simple’ solutions are always HARD to come by. I can remember that there was (still selling I guess) a product that simply sewn together a glove and an icescraper for scraping ice off on your car’s windows during winter. So obvious and so silly but it sold millions.

Dave P 22 Mar 06

For the sake of all that’s noble and good about web design: PLEASE STOP LINKING TO FORBES’ SLIDESHOWS!

What a disaster. If they decide to make a 20 crappiest tools it has my vote for number 1! :-)

Walker Hamilton 22 Mar 06

Amen!

Noah 22 Mar 06

abbacus rocks, slide rules too

the abbacus and slide rule sent man to the moon, sure computers were used but not as much as people like to think

Dave P 22 Mar 06

um… the wheel anyone?

Peter N Lewis 22 Mar 06

I do not think the Forbes list validates the argument “[Focused tools] are always the best tools.”. A fish hook with a lure is a better tool than a fish hook by itself, a claw hammer is better than a hammer without a claw, but the forbes list is listing the basic “tool idea”, so they are bound to choose the focussed tool by the definition of their list, not by which is better. This is not to say the argument is not somewhat valid, just the Forbes list does not validate it.

Neil 23 Mar 06

For the youngsters out there, the computers on the original shuttles had less computing capabilities then your standard hand held calculator of the mid 70’s.

John 26 Mar 06

What about duct tape?

It doesn’t do one thing good, it does a million things “good enough” when you don’t have the tools and/or the materials to do the job right.

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