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Old 03-04-2011, 12:49 PM   #1
MaximRecoil
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Default Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?



They are also called 6-in-1 screwdrivers, because if you remove the bits from the shank, the shank can be used as a 1/4" nut driver on one end and a 5/16" nut driver on the other end.

This is my favorite multi-screwdriver design, as it can take care of probably 90% or more of screwdriver tasks I encounter, and it is strong and stays together well during use due to the ball detents (as opposed to e.g. magnets) that hold it together. The bits are nicely machined from quality steel, even on the generic $5 ones like the one I've had for the past 15 years (the bits are all still in good shape even though it has seen much use over the years).

Anyone know who invented this type of screwdriver? Also, I'm thinking there might be one company that makes many or most of them (Pratt-Read maybe?) because many of them are identical (aside from the handle shape/color/material), regardless of the brand name written on them (or lack thereof).
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:57 PM   #2
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

I don't know, but I do love them.

My Ace 10 in 1 is my favorite because it also has 2 torx and 2 square bits.
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Old 03-04-2011, 01:39 PM   #3
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

it's a little confusing who actually made the 6-1 but here's the patents. Burton Kozak it seems but underneath are a bunch of other people who seem to have had it before maybe :

http://www.google.com/patents/about?...+1+screwdriver

Last edited by strnjss; 03-04-2011 at 01:44 PM.
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

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Originally Posted by trout View Post
I don't know, but I do love them.

My Ace 10 in 1 is my favorite because it also has 2 torx and 2 square bits.
Snap-on also makes a 10-in-1, which is an extension of the 4-in-1 design - Link. Technically, the basic 4-in-1 design could be extended to any number -in-1 depending on how large diameter shank you start with, but it would soon be like a matryoshka doll.

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Originally Posted by strnjss View Post
it's a little confusing who actually made the 6-1 but here's the patents. Burton Kozak it seems but underneath are a bunch of other people who seem to have had it before maybe :

http://www.google.com/patents/about?...+1+screwdriver
Interesting. That's not quite the same thing though. The screwdriver in the patent drawing is a small shirt pocket type with pocket clip, and is only 3-piece (handle plus two bits), with one double ended bit going into the front of the handle and the other going into the back.

I know Snap-on had similar multi-screwdrivers dating from way back, like this one:



But that is just a 2-in-1 with extra bits/shanks.

Does anyone know the approximate time frame the 4-in-1s like pictured in my OP came out? I think I first saw them in the late '80s, but I'm not positive.

Last edited by MaximRecoil; 03-04-2011 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:20 PM   #5
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

I have several Kleins in vehicles, the house etc. They are a very handy invention.
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

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Snap-on also makes a 10-in-1, which is an extension of the 4-in-1 design - Link. Technically, the basic 4-in-1 design could be extended to any number -in-1 depending on how large diameter shank you start with, but it would soon be like a matryoshka doll.

Does anyone know the approximate time frame the 4-in-1s like pictured in my OP came out? I think I first saw them in the late '80s, but I'm not positive.

Oh man, if that had a square bit I'd be all over it. Maybe mine will fit.

I looked at the patent link posted. There was one from 1901 that was a 2 in 1.
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

I generally dislike screwdrivers with removable bits. But I'm a huge fan of my Klein 10-n-1s.
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

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I generally dislike screwdrivers with removable bits. But I'm a huge fan of my Klein 10-n-1s.
+1 for the Klein... I really like how the shafts can be used as nut drivers too - I'd almost call it a 12-in-1 if you include the fractional sizes of the bit collars... I only wish it was magnetic.

Multi-bit drivers have been around a long time... I have a few german made ones from some MB's/Volvos/VW's from the 60's-70's... though I'm sure the idea has been manufactured long before the 60's...
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:47 PM   #9
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

Legend has it that it was actually invented by Homer S. Forenwon. He never bothered to file for a patent, so when a competitor took the basic design and patented it himself, Homer lost out. He actually had to end up spending a fortune trying to prove that the few he had sold were not a patent infringement. I believe Homer died a pauper.
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Old 03-04-2011, 03:03 PM   #10
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Red face Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kburns View Post
Legend has it that it was actually invented by Homer S. Forenwon. He never bothered to file for a patent, so when a competitor took the basic design and patented it himself, Homer lost out. He actually had to end up spending a fortune trying to prove that the few he had sold were not a patent infringement. I believe Homer died a pauper.
My 1971 Beetle had a double "flip" straight edge and #2 Phillips with the jack and tire iron set.This idea is easily extended to multiple drivers.

Tesla himself died only a few steps away from being destitute for not getting patents that he believed "belonged to mankind".

I hope the History channel was wrong!

Last edited by cortez; 03-04-2011 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 03-04-2011, 03:07 PM   #11
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

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Oh man, if that had a square bit I'd be all over it. Maybe mine will fit.
Yeah, Snap-on chose to have two additional sizes of Torx in their 10-in-1 rather than two square bits, but I bet your bits would fit just fine.

Last edited by MaximRecoil; 03-04-2011 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 03-04-2011, 03:16 PM   #12
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kburns View Post
Legend has it that it was actually invented by Homer S. Forenwon. He never bothered to file for a patent, so when a competitor took the basic design and patented it himself, Homer lost out. He actually had to end up spending a fortune trying to prove that the few he had sold were not a patent infringement. I believe Homer died a pauper.
No, Homer stole the idea from a German fellow by the name of Hans Sikzenwahn, but Hans never told him about the secret nut driver functionality; and Homer, not being the sharpest tool in the shed, never noticed.
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Old 03-04-2011, 03:24 PM   #13
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

I got a free Kobalt 6-in-1 a couple years ago for signing up on their 'craftsman club' type program. I hate their handle, which is OK as it makes a great 'in the house' screwdriver and Im not tempted to take it to the garage.



-Jeff
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Old 03-04-2011, 03:28 PM   #14
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?



http://www.roseantiquetools.com/store/page135.html

-not touting this company at all - just found an 1868ish multibit tool, that's all.
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Old 03-04-2011, 04:06 PM   #15
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

This is the one I've had for the past 15 years:



Note the shameless ripoff of the Snap-on 1960s to 1980s "Contour" handles, and prestigious "BENCHTOP" name.

I got it at Marden's (any other Mainers here will know that place) for a few dollars, and it has held up surprisingly well. The bits are all still in great shape, and were nicely machined from quality steel in the first place.

I ordered a Snap-on version last night.

Last edited by MaximRecoil; 03-04-2011 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 03-04-2011, 04:56 PM   #16
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

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Originally Posted by Theloniousmonk View Post


http://www.roseantiquetools.com/store/page135.html

-not touting this company at all - just found an 1868ish multibit tool, that's all.
Cool! I just bought a hollow wooden handle just like this, and thought it was a metal file holder. Now I know different!
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Old 03-04-2011, 05:01 PM   #17
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

I have an old one with red plastic handle marked
"4 in one screwdrivers inc. Jamestown NY"
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Old 03-04-2011, 05:06 PM   #18
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

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Originally Posted by Theloniousmonk View Post


http://www.roseantiquetools.com/store/page135.html

-not touting this company at all - just found an 1868ish multibit tool, that's all.
I've seen a lot of cheap multi-tools based on that design, mostly when I was a kid. I don't know how well that one works, but the ones I've used were horrible. The shank only goes into the handle to a depth of less than an inch, and the threaded collar arrangement wasn't the most secure thing in the world (you couldn't get it very tight, and it tended to loosen as you were using the tool). They were marginal as screwdrivers, but were next to useless with the little saw or chisel attachment; way too flimsy of an arrangement to work well.

That one in the picture you posted does appear to be pretty good quality construction, but I think the design itself is lacking.
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Old 03-04-2011, 05:11 PM   #19
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Default Re: Who invented the 4-in-1 screwdriver?

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I have an old one with red plastic handle marked
"4 in one screwdrivers inc. Jamestown NY"
A Google search for that brings up some interesting results, for example, a thread titled Brand Names of tools that have become generic...:

Quote:
How about the '4-in-1' screwdriver...which some of them are marked:The Original 4-in-one Screwdriver, Jamestown, NY.
If "4-IN-ONE" was a brand name of a company in Jamestown, NY; and they are using the word "original", maybe they are the actual inventors. Do you have a picture of yours?
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Old 03-04-2011, 05:35 PM   #20
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