Switzerland stays out of international disputes, so it’s ironic how its army because associated with what may be the best know, most beloved, and most commonly used pies of military hardware in the world, according to a chapter in The Book of Bizarre Truths.
The multitool pocketknife was the brainchild of Swiss cutlery manufacturer Karl Elsener. A true patriot, Elsener bristled at the fact that Swiss soldiers go their standard issue knives from a German manufacturer. He set out to win the contract from his government.
In the 1890s, he designed a unique spring mechanism for pocketknives that allows the handle to hold several blades. That was clever but the true genius was when he included several basic tools in his knife – a can opener, a hole punch, and a screwdriver.
According to some, it was the screwdriver that won over the Swiss military brass. Their infantry had began using a new type of rifle and soldiers needed screwdrivers to perform basic maintenance on the weapon.
Elsener dubbed his creation the “Soldier’s Knife” and followed it up with a lightweight version with a few more tools he called the “Officer’s and Sports Knife.” Before long, handymen around the world were carrying them in their pocket. It was in during World War II when American GIs dubbed it the Swiss Army Knife.
Elsener’s company, Victorinox, is still in business and producing 34,000 knives a day in some 300 configurations. Almost any tool can be found on one model or another; corkscrew, wire strippers, toothpick, fish scaler, ruler, nail file, saw, chisel, magnifying glass, flashlight, ballpoint pen, or a tracheotomy knife.
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See you on the bricks soon!