Studying Invention: The Hand Tool as a Model System

Robert J. Weber, Stacey Dixon, Antolin M. Llorente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Invention is an important source of technology, and, to understand invention, one needs a model system or prototype. A candidate model system is the hand tool. Using the hand tool as an example, the authors present a systematic approach to invention, dealing with description, classification, and joining or integrating simpler forms. Heuristics for when to integrate are presented. Finally, the authors introduce a new way of thinking about hand tools: simple spatial transformations applied to an abstract element make possible the re-creation of a large number of tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-505
Number of pages26
JournalScience, Technology & Human Values
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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