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Article: Tool


Definition and History of Tools

  • Tool use is the external employment of an object to modify another object or organism.
  • Benjamin Beck proposed a widely used definition of tool use in 1981.
  • Other briefer definitions have been proposed by Finn, Tregenza, and Norman in 2009, and Jones and Kamil in 1973.
  • Tools can be objects carried or maintained for future use.
  • Tools are inanimate objects that are used or modified to cause a change in the environment.
  • The use of tools was an important step in the evolution of mankind.
  • Tools were likely made of perishable materials in the early stages.
  • Stone artifacts date back to about 2.5 million years ago.
  • The earliest known use of stone tools among hominins is about 3.4 million years ago.
  • Tools such as hand axes and flake stone tools were important for various activities.

Timeline of Ancient Tool Development

  • Olduvai stone technology (Oldowan) developed 2.5 million years ago.
  • Acheulean stone technology, including hand axes, developed 1.6 million years ago.
  • Fire creation and manipulation were used since the Paleolithic, possibly by Homo erectus.
  • Boats were developed 900,000 years ago.
  • Cooking tools were used 500,000 years ago.
  • Javelins were invented 400,000 years ago.
  • Glue was used 200,000 years ago.
  • Clothing was possibly invented 170,000 years ago.
  • Stone tools were used by Homo floresiensis around 100,000 years ago.
  • Harpoons were invented 90,000 years ago.
  • Bow and arrows were invented 70,000–60,000 years ago.
  • Sewing needles were used around 60,000 - 50,000 BC.
  • Flutes were invented 43,000 years ago.
  • Fishing nets and ropes were used 43,000 years ago.
  • Ceramics were developed around 25,000 BC.

Machine Tools

  • Machine tools played a significant role in the Industrial Revolution, allowing for the production of new tools.
  • Pre-industrial machinery was built by different craftsmen, such as millwrights, carpenters, and smiths.
  • The use of metal parts and frames became more common as the Industrial Revolution progressed.
  • Machine tools were developed to meet the demand for precision and the need for interchangeable parts.
  • With their precision, machine tools enabled the economical production of interchangeable parts.
  • Types of machine tools include cutting and edge tools, moving tools, tools that enact chemical changes, guiding, measuring, and perception tools, and shaping tools.

Tool Substitution and Multi-use Tools

  • Tools can substitute for other tools either as a makeshift solution or for practical efficiency.
  • Substitution by-design refers to tools specifically designed to accomplish multiple tasks.
  • Substitution as makeshift occurs when a tool is used for an unintended purpose.
  • Many tools have secondary functions that are not widely known.
  • Tools can be used to substitute missing mechanical parts or serve as multi-purpose devices.
  • Tool substitution can be divided into substitution by-design and substitution as makeshift.
  • Some tools, like rotary tools, are designed to be multi-purpose.
  • Cheap tools can be used to substitute missing mechanical parts in older devices.
  • Multi-tools incorporate several tools into a single portable device.
  • Some tools have a primary purpose but also incorporate additional functionality.
  • Multi-use tools were revolutionary for craftsmen who needed to travel and minimize the number of tools they carried.
  • Multi-use tools solve the problem of having to deal with many different tools.
  • The Swiss Army knife is one of the earliest examples of a multi-tool.

Tool Use in Animals and Non-material Usage of Tools

  • Tool use by animals is a phenomenon where animals use tools to achieve goals.
  • Animals use tools to acquire food and water, among other purposes.
  • Tool use by animals demonstrates their cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills.
  • Tool use by animals has been observed in various species across different habitats.
  • Primates, including monkeys and apes, are known for using tools for various purposes.
  • Elephants, dolphins, sea otters, and some birds also engage in tool use.
  • Fish and cephalopods, such as octopuses, also use tools.
  • Tool use in fish and cephalopods demonstrates a level of cognitive ability beyond what was previously believed.
  • Non-material usage of tools includes concepts and processes that support systematic or investigative thought.
  • Examples include tools of reflection, decision-making processes, and toolkits used in various fields.
  • Antique tools, human factors and ergonomics, tool and die makers, tool libraries, and references and scholarly works are related topics.

Tool Data Sources

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