A Cruel Tool

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A few days ago, in my discussion of the origin of scissors, I criticized the pair of pliers, invented by Benjamin Franklin, because they were invented not out of innovation, but so that Franklin could liquidate his massive stockpile of individual pliers.
An astute reader points out that the pair of pliers, or Franklin Levers, did in fact offer a considerable improvement in the field of dentistry. But that's not the whole story. While Franklin's pliers were a step forward from the "poke and dig" strategy commonly used at the time, they were introduced several years after the Jefferson Painless Extractors - a decidedly more elegant solution. Unfortunately Jefferson's product was unable to withstand the shear brute force of Franklin's marketing juggernaut. A man who knew to pick his battles, Jefferson abandoned the project and moved on to other things.

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Blogger duffytoler said...

All worked out in the end, though. Imagine if Jefferson had followed through and become a dentist! The fate of our nation would have been very different... Would we have won, or even started, the Revolutionary War? Would the turkey be our national bird? Would puppy slander be condoned in public?

4:56 PM  

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