Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Duct Tape, Velcro and Cable Ties

I was at a party recently that included really good finger food and some interesting conversation.  This was a get-together where people knew each other at a casual level, so the discussions tended to be light and far ranging.  It was also a party where the couples were (a) "mature" and (b) had been married a long time, so that after a few minutes the discussion groups tended to be separated by gender.

At one point the group of men I was talking with drifted onto the topic of the wonders of  duct tape (now marketed as Duck Tape). We all readily agreed on its usefulness, and several of the men related stories of how they had used it creatively to solve problems.  It was pointed out that duct Tape was an example of an invention that was simple yet could be adapted to many uses beyond its original intent (in the case of duct tape, this was to seal ammunition boxes in WWII).  Now, of course,  its uses range from fashion to car repairs .

The conversation then turned to other inventions that  had similar properties, though weren't quite as legendary as duct tape.  One was the cable tie, those strips of plastic that have little teeth on one side and a buckle at one end.  Pulling the tie through to buckle in a loop locks the strip in place because the buckle has a wedge that engages with the teeth and prevents the strip from moving backward.  The simplicity of the design makes these little suckers incredibly cheap and easy to produce. As the name suggests, one of the most popular uses of these is to bundle wires or cables together and/or to secure them to something else.  However, just like duct tape, the cable tie has been adapted for many, many other uses, from handcuffing criminals to closing someone's chest after heart surgery.

So here's the challenge:  What do you think should be added to a list of the most useful inventions of the last couple of hundred years?  I'll start off with Velcro, which -- like duct tape -- has only been around since the '40's.  Preference will be given to simple items like these.  Maybe in a later blog we can take on nominations for inventions that have most changed society, like the microwave oven.  (Also, in my next blog I'll discuss a couple of things that will change everything.....)

Here's the list so far.  To make an addition submit a comment (anonymously if you prefer) and I'll add it to the list:

  1. duct tape
  2. cable ties
  3. velcro

     4.  springs
     5.  rubber bands
     6.  tooth picks
     7.  paint
     8.  paper clips


    Anonymous said...

    alcohol? : )


    Anonymous said...

    I also think the spring...

    Anonymous said...

    Can't believe I am commenting for the 3rd time, but in my defense I read this and then went and cut the lawn, so I had time to think...what about the rubber band?


    Gordon Allen said...

    Hi Dick, Interesting question. My suggestion is the 'toothpick'. Besides its intended use, one can use it to paint, to plug a small hole, to make a ship in a bottle, etc. Gordon

    Dennis Nord said...

    Paint. It changes everything, can be used for language, signs, art work, coloring, signaling and affecting mood/ambiance of our living environment inside or out. It's thin, goes on wet and stays dry and seals many products effectively against the weather or might be used to hold moisture inside as with a planter.

    Richard Sherman said...

    Hey -- I just thought of another one -- the clothes pin. Useful for the purpose its name implies, but think of the additional uses that have evolved -- the chip clip and other bag closures, spring-loaded clamps for woodworking, etc., etc.

    Garry said...

    Hi,very nice and attractive blog post.I really liked it.Thanks and keep it up in future.

    Metallic And Plastic Twist Ties said...

    Good and informative topic on cable ties.

    Releasable Cable Ties said...

    Having a great time reading your blog post. you know what your readers want. Keep posting.

    John West said...

    These are most useful inventions of the last couple of hundred years indeed. I would like to add zip ties in this list.

    Salina Rogers said...

    Cable ties are amazing invention and so do all the things in the list.
    Add screws and nut bolts in the list they are the most useful inventions in the past years.