Foundational Technology


I saw this article in New Scientist this week and I thought “Foundational Technology” is an interesting idea to think about.

A piece of 50,000-year-old string found in a cave in France is the oldest ever discovered. It suggests that Neanderthals knew how to twist fibres together to make cords – and, if so, they might have been able to craft ropes, clothes, bags and nets.

“None can be done without that initial step,” says Bruce Hardy at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. “Twisted fibres are a foundational technology.”

If we’re looking at modern life in the 2020’s then perhaps the foundational technology is the internet. With self isolation in April 2020 then the internet has enabled us all to work, shop and communicate with friends and family.

What is the foundational technology in model engineering and model making? There are lots of tools and techniques that underpin what we do in the workshop and so I thought I would list them and then try to order them:

  1. File
  2. Scribe
  3. Ruler
  4. Hacksaw
  5. Drill

These first few items make you think and immediately I’m looking at File vs Scribe and I think the Scribe and the Rule are at the top. I think this idea might also allow me to think about the starters toolbox.

This idea can also be used to simplify your workshop or at least the tools that are close at hand, write a list and start comparing the items and re-ordering. In computing this is known as a bubblesort.

About Nigel 358 Articles
I've been making models since I was around 7 years old and using a lathe from the age of 11, a self taught engineer with a passion for making model engines.


  1. Dear Sir,
    You are at it again. A Ruler runs a country. (Our Queen Reigns over us)
    A Rule is used to measure. Using the PM to measure. He cannot be in every one’s work shop at once. We who spent our lives in Drawing Offices find “Rule” not being used is somewhat irksome.
    If you are doing this to prove that you are no Engineer, you have succeeded.
    Note, like so many Engineer’s the use of written English is not my strongest attribute.

    • Hello Mervyn, I remember this being said to me at my first job, but later someone corrected me. So thought I would check online: “A ruler, sometimes called a rule or line gauge, is a device used in geometry and technical drawing, as well as the engineering and construction industries, to measure distances or draw straight lines.” Wikipedia. OK it’s wikipedia and so might not be correct English and so just checking the Oxford Dictionary for ruler: “1. a person who rules or governs 2. a straight narrow piece of wood, plastic or metal, marked in centimetres or inches, used for measuring or for drawing straight lines”. Best regards, Nigel

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