Really Useful

Really Useful

The Origins of Everyday Things

Book - 2002
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Baker & Taylor
Looks at the history of such household and office items as coffee makers, Tupperware, toothpaste, neon lights, paperclips, matches, and vacuum cleaners.

Firefly Books Ltd

You undoubtedly know what a paperclip is and how to use it, but did you know that during the Second World War the people of Norway adopted paperclips as a symbol of protest against the occupying Nazis? Really Useful tells these and other stories of how the things we use every day came into being.

As much a sociological history as a compendium of entertaining stories, Really Useful takes you on a tour from the kitchen to the bathroom to the office and beyond. Along the way it tells us about the technology, design, social conditions and even intrigue that contributed to these remarkable innovations, which include:

  • sliced bread, microwave oven, coffee, tea bags, corkscrew and Teflon
  • razor blades, Band-Aids, the toothbrush, lipstick and tissues
  • air conditioning, buttons, vacuum cleaners, stockings and neon lights
  • Post-It notes, the floppy disk, smoke detectors, fireworks and the battery
  • barcodes, traffic lights, parking meters, padlocks

We sometimes curse these things as just so much clutter but in fact they form the fabric of our daily lives and we'd be lost without them. The stories of their origins are as interesting and illuminating as these objects are truly useful.


An entertaining look at the origins of everyday things -- their history, design, social conditions and intrigue that contributed to their development.

Publisher: Willowdale, Ont. : Firefly Books, 2002
ISBN: 9781552976227
155297622X
Branch Call Number: 608 LEV
Characteristics: 240 p. :,ill. (chiefly col.) ;,24 cm.
Alternative Title: Origins of everyday things

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