The History of the Phillips Screwdriver

phillips-screwdriver-patent.jpg
32 years ago the Phillips screwdriver was patented by Henry F. Phillips who was a Portland, Oregon, businessman.
from Wired
Phillips wasn’t trying to make life with hand tools easier. He was trying to solve an industrial problem. To drive a slot screw, you need hand-eye coordination to line up the screwdriver and the slot. If you’re a machine — especially a 1930s machine — you ain’t got no eye, and your hand coordination may depend on humans.


The Phillips-head screw and Phillips screwdriver were designed for power tools, especially power tools on assembly lines. The shallow, cruciform slot in the screw allows the tapering cruciform shape of the screwdriver to seat itself automatically when contact and rotation are achieved. That saves a second or two, and if you’ve got hundreds of screws in thousands of units (say, cars), you’re talking big time here.
And not only does a power Phillips driver get engaged fast, it stays engaged and doesn’t tend to slide out of the screw from centrifugal force. Another advantage: It’s hard to overscrew with a power tool. The screwdriver will likely just pop out when the screw is completely fastened.

via Remodeling for Geeks

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  • paullafargue

    I think you need to correct the following statement:
    “32 years ago the Phillips screwdriver was patented by Henry F. Phillips”

    It was more like eighty years ago.

    • Charles Rollins

      This guy has so many facts wrong I’m very worried that he didn’t do any research prior to this posting. Phillips didn’t patent the cruciform head
      or the screwdriver, he was simply the marketing person behind popularizing this new form of screw. John Thompson patented both and Phillips purchased the patents.

  • Jim Harrer

    Yes…..and the screws had a Phillips head on them hence the name phillips head screwdriver!! But slotted screws are NOT called flat head, either should that flat bladed screw driver be called a flat head—–cringe??!!! As far as slotted screws go there are round, counter sunk & fillister heads to name a few………….