Stringing along your yard work. Maybe it’s stringing you around. We’ll see what’s going on, today on Engineering Works!
Just about everybody recognizes the sound of a weed eater. If you mow your lawn, you probably own one of the little electric- or gas-powered gadgets.
Weed eaters have been around for almost 40 years. They give us an easy way to keep our lawns neat, without crawling along with garden shears. How they came to be is an odd bit of bottom-up technology development.
Sometime in the early 1970s, a man in Houston, Texas, hired a guy to keep his big lawn neat. One day while clipping around some shrubs, the gardener stirred up a copperhead, and the snake bit him. The man who’d hired him started looking for a way to trim lawn edges without having to move your hands along the ground.
He poked through his garage and ended up with an empty coffee can, an electric lawn edger – the tool you use to make a neat edge along the sidewalk – and some string — monofilament fishing line. He bolted the can to the edger, punched a hole in the can, and threaded the fishing line through it. Voila! The first weed eater.
It was ugly and noisy and didn’t work too well. But it worked well enough that he hired an engineer to smooth out the design, and he started selling them. The rest is history.
Well, our lawn’s a-waiting. See you next time.
Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU-FM in College Station. Learn more about engineering. Visit us on the World Wide Web.
Start the discussion: Lots of the technology we use every day has interesting stories behind it; the weed eater is only one example. If you know of some interesting technology stories, let us know.