Thursday, May 8, 2008

The right tool for the job

My dad was an electrician and something of a general purpose handyman. He had tools everywhere - from the shed to the basement to a fully-stocked work van. One of the many things I learned from him is that any job you do is a lot easier if you have the right tool. To that end he had a lot of different kinds of tools. As a kid and then a teenager (when I used to help him on weekends and the summer) it amazed me how inventive the people who designed those tools were.

I started carrying a pocketknife when I was about 12 or 13 years old, probably because it was a useful tool. I bought my first swiss army knife in college and loved it. I always used it. Knife, screwdriver, bottle opener, even a little saw - what else could an engineer-in-training want?

I found that answer when I bought my first Leatherman tool. In the last dozen years I've used that tool all across the country in clean rooms, trade shows, customer visits, and even at parties opening beer bottles. I still have it, I still use it, and any young engineers I encounter eventually hear that they should buy their own (and stop using mine).

So the other day I pulled it out to adjust a screw on a cabinet and wondered how long these tools had been around. It has been an essential tool in my career for a long time, but how much longer had they been around? Turns out that 2008 is the Leatherman tool's 25th anniversary. So this is my official toast to 25 years of the right tool for many jobs.

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