Cordless Tools

PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT in the small electric tool field in recent years is that of Black & Decker Ltd, with their cordless electric drill. So writes The Commercial Motor 16 1962, page ? From our perspective one half century later, we must agree that the writer's prophecy is "right on!"

We have progressed from nickel cadmium batteries to the lithium ion battery.

some photocopied notes off web are in file in folder "cordless tools"

As the term, "cordless" implies, a tool self-contained for power, not needing a cord that connects to an electrical outlet. In 1961, at the behest of NASA, an engineer for Black and Decker, Robert H. Riley Jr., invented the nickel-cadmium battery. This space-age invention subsequently led to the first cordless drill for Black & Decker; the drill had a 4.8-volt nickel-cadmium battery. Using this technology, Black & Decker later created a cordless rotary hammer drill, used by astronauts to drill for rock samples on the moon. (In this context, most famous perhaps is the photo of astronauts using a cordless hammer drill to obtain rock samples on the moon in ? See the extensive account of Riley at Tools Online "Hall of Fame" [link needed]

The material culture historian, Carolyn M. Goldstein, claims (without any documentation) that, "Cordless drills, although expensive and underpowered at first, were introduced in the early 1960s."

Other portable power tool manufacturers followed with their own battery-powered tools. In 1963, Milwaukee marketed a (corded) battery-powered drill -- the battery clipped to the user's belt -- a technique that gave Milwaukee's tools more power without the extra weight of the battery. Today, cordless models of everything from drills to circular saws, jig saws, and routers are available from a variety of manufacturers with power ranging from 6- to 36-volt. Manufacturers offer their customers "combo kits" that feature a variety of different cordless tools (Photo, below).

Modern tools often have "smart" chargers that reduce heat to maximize power, nun-time, and the useful life of the battery itself.

(Source: Carolyn M. Goldstein, Do-It-Yourself: Home Improvement in 20th Century America New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998, pages 50-51.)