Swiss Army Knife: History and Metaphor – INFOGRAPHIC

Visual timeline of the Swiss Army Knife from invention in 1891 to marketing metaphor in the 1990s and beyond.

I have used “the Swiss Army Knife” as a metaphor in the past; I proposed it recently as part of a slogan I was working on. The more it nagged at me that I’d heard this metaphorically before, the more I wanted to dive down the rabbit hole. This is a two-part infographic on how the Swiss Army Knife has influenced us:

Visual timeline of the Swiss Army Knife from invention in 1891 to marketing metaphor in the 1990s and beyond.

Visual representation of search results for "the Swiss Army Knife of"...

Sources consulted:

Victorinox

Gear Junkie: Origins of the Swiss Army Knife, Stephen Regenold

Patrick Taylor

MoMA Architecture and Design Collection

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Here are the links associated with each of the results in the graphic above:

the Swiss Army Knife of“:

QuickTime components (http://perian.org/ )

portable videos (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203872404574260031716614544.html )

embedded linux (http://busybox.net/about.html )

tailored jackets (http://www.ivy-style.com/the-swiss-army-knife-of-tailored-jackets.html )

tablets (http://hothardware.com/Reviews/Swiss-Army-Knife-Tablet-Toshibas-Thrive-/ )

web copywriters (mine: https://jrotman.wordpress.com/2009/01/01/web-copywriter-becomes-swiss-army-knife/ )

internet streaming (http://sonnati.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/ffmpeg-%E2%80%93-the-swiss-army-knife-of-internet-streaming-%E2%80%93-part-iii/ )

trade policy (http://voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/6808 )

design (http://designtaxi.com/article/101714/The-Swiss-Army-Knife-of-Design )

sound processing programs (http://sox.sourceforge.net/ )

vector graphics scripting (http://paperjs.org/about/ )

attack tools (http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9174560/Botnets_the_Swiss_Army_knife_of_attack_tools_ )

prospecting (http://blog.bridgegroupinc.com/blog/tabid/47760/bid/60476/The-Swiss-Army-Knife-of-Prospecting.aspx )

trace – CodeProject (http://www.codeproject.com/KB/trace/tracetool.aspx )

the brain (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2010/01/07/in-the-swiss-army-knife-of-the-brain-the-ability-to-recognize-faces-may-be-a-specialized-tool/ )

rifles (www.lwrci.com/articles/GA-NOV-P48-55.pd )

pens http://www.vat19.com/dvds/swisspen-x1-swiss-army-knife-executive-pen.cfm

online marketing (http://klessblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/video-is-swiss-army-knife-of-internet.html )

blackberry apps (http://www.mobihand.com/150/product.asp?id=26144 )

personal organizers (http://www.inklineglobal.com/products/redboxorganiser/ )

portals (http://www.prescientdigital.com/articles/sharepoint/sharepoint-the-swiss-army-knife-of-portals/ )

iPad GTD apps (http://appadvice.com/appnn/2011/02/wunderlist-hd-swiss-army-knife-ipad-gtd-apps )

free tools to make sweet landing pages (http://unbounce.com/landing-pages/the-non-designers-swiss-army-knife-of-free-tools-to-make-sweet-landing-pages/ )

map apps (http://thenextweb.com/apps/2011/05/30/maps-for-iphone-is-the-swiss-army-knife-of-map-apps/ )

overclocking (http://www.cpuidle.de/ )

mammalian plasma (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20971949 )

the projector world (http://www.projectorcentral.com/creative_projection_videos.cfm?2011-05-25-Pico-Projectors-The-Swiss-Army-Knife-of-the-Projector-World&entry_id=415 )

shovels (http://gadgetbox.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/05/04/6584548-its-the-crovel-the-swiss-army-knife-of-shovels )

shovels (http://www.wimp.com/militaryshovel/ )

heavy equipment (http://www.heavyconstructionacademy.com/2011/09/30/excavatorsarmyknifeheavyequipment/ )

Android apps (http://www.geeknewscentral.com/2011/05/31/the-swiss-army-knife-of-android-apps/ )

communication tools (http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/rich-brooks/social-media-strategies-small-business/why-guy-kawasaki-wrong-about-twitter )

shoulder rigs (http://www.cinema5d.com/news/?p=5796 )

cutlery (http://www.businessinsider.com/idea-of-the-day-the-swiss-army-knife-of-cutlery-2011-6 )

emotions (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dorkmaster/3287780385/ )

tire gauges (http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424052748704900704576595032808329612.html )

social media plugins (http://www.socialtechnologyreview.com/articles/gigya-swiss-army-knife-social-media-plugins )

linux photo editors (http://ubuntumanual.org/posts/268/fotoxx-%E2%80%93-the-swiss-army-knife-of-linux-photo-editors )

Android tablets (http://digg.com/news/technology/the_swiss_army_knife_of_android_tablets_toshiba_s_thrive_reviewed )

the organization (http://blogs.capella.edu/organizationalperspectives/2011/05/23/hr-professionals-the-swiss-army-knife-of-the-organization-by-al-gorriaran/ )

themes (http://www.websitecreationworkshop.com/blog/register-now/optimizepress-the-swiss-army-knife-of-themes/ )

tablets (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2758088/posts )

test equipment (http://www.rdmag.com/Tools-And-Technology/2011/02/Meters-Digital-Multimeter-Specifications-Guide/ )

diagnostic tools (www.proligence.com/pr_oracle_trace.pdf )

keyboards (http://techland.time.com/2010/09/24/steelseries-shift-the-swiss-army-knife-of-keyboards/ )

charts (http://kaizenfieldbook.com/marksblog/archives/463 )

surfing (http://www.surfertoday.com/surfing/6042-the-swiss-army-knife-of-surfing )

Sakai (http://vimeo.com/4242525 )

Apartments (http://dornob.com/flat-pack-mobile-home-the-swiss-army-knife-of-apartments/ )

Silverlight Windows phone apps LongListSelector (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/jaimer/archive/2010/11/02/hail-to-the-swiss-army-knife-of-silverlight-windows-phone-apps-longlistselector.aspx )

digital certificates and PKI (http://www.startssl.com/ )

modern websites (http://www.oho.com/blog/flexible-grids  )

web applications (http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/3114 )

bike wheels (http://inhabitat.com/copenhagen-wheel-mit-unveils-the-swiss-army-knife-of-bike-wheels/ )

sailboats (http://www.norseboat.com/Swiss_army_knife_of_sailboats!.html )

thumbdrives (http://www.gearfuse.com/this-256gb-ssd-is-the-swiss-army-knife-of-thumb-drives/ )

interactive marketing (http://www.slideshare.net/ReelSEO/omnicom-video )

sharing (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_-Nzdu7MVU )

electric scooters in one second (http://gizmodo.com/5780497/unfold-the-swiss-army-of-electric-scooters-in-one-second )

blogging (http://www.techomag.com/wordpress-the-swiss-army-knife-of-blogging/ )

web traffic (http://www.businesswebcoach.com/search-engine-optimization/google-seo/google-analytics-the-swiss-army-knife-of-web-traffic/ )

public policy (http://www.rothcpa.com/archives/007245.php )

essential oils (http://naturallavenderoil.com/2011/08/the-swiss-army-knife-of-essential-oils/ )

homestead tractors (http://www.homestead.org/JohnMolloy/Gravely/SwissArmyKnife.htm )

electric mopeds (http://gas2.org/2011/03/21/voltitude-the-swiss-army-knife-of-electric-mopeds/ )

fitness apps (http://apptudes.com/2011/07/25/fitness-buddy/ )

solar powered car charging stations (http://www.cleanenergyauthority.com/solar-energy-news/tva-and-epri-build-solar-electric-car-chargers-012811/ )

download utilities (http://www.linuxplanet.com/linuxplanet/tips/6610/1 )

PCs (http://www.lostintechnology.com/software/capturenet-the-swiss-army-knife-of-pcs/ )

web-based tools (http://websearch.about.com/b/2010/08/19/1dl-us-the-swiss-army-knife-of-web-based-tools.htm )

mobile ID readers (http://techchunks.com/technology/3m-md6000-mobile-id-reader-enables-quick-security-checks/ )

golf tools (http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-equipment/blogs/newstuff/2011/02/the-swiss-army-knife-of-golf-t-1.html )

mac window management (http://smokingapples.com/software/hyperdock/ )

wireless PC gaming controllers (http://dvice.com/archives/2011/03/behold-the-swis.php )

can openers (http://domestikgoddess.com/kuhn-rikon-bottle-can-opener/ )

job search tools (annex.ncwc.edu/intern/Handouts/Elevator%20Speech.pdf  )

vegetables (http://papaheroes.com/2011/08/carrots-the-swiss-army-knife-of-vegetables/ )

steampunk guns (http://www.slipperybrick.com/2010/03/the-swiss-army-knife-of-steampunk-guns/ )

card readers (http://www.slashgear.com/the-swiss-army-knife-of-card-readers-115207/ )

mac utilities (http://technology-headlines.com/2011/09/19/mackeeper-the-swiss-army-knife-of-mac-utilities/ )

personal GPS tracking (http://www.iphoneappreview.com/itrakme-the-swiss-army-knife-of-personal-gps-tracking/ )

T-SQL (http://sqlblog.com/blogs/jamie_thomson/archive/2010/01/06/merge-and-output-the-swiss-army-knife-of-t-sql.aspx )

PIMS (personal information manager) (http://www.ghacks.net/2009/04/28/kontact-the-swiss-army-knife-of-pims/ )

networking for growing businesses and home offices (http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/mushroom-networks-launches-truffle-lite-swiss-army-knife-networking-growing-businesses-1553277.htm )

filmmaking (http://www.writersstore.com/special-effects-the-swiss-army-knife-of-filmmaking )

Peace Corps (http://borderland-chronicles.com/the-swiss-army-knife-of-peace-corps )

portable media players (http://oreilly.com/pub/wlg/7338 )

life (http://www.corporatesecretary.com/articles/succession-planning/11237/networking-swiss-army-knife-life/ )

DOOM! (http://skidmarksteve.livejournal.com/ )

silicon and glass (https://www.stanford.edu/group/ats/cgi-bin/hivetalkin/?p=939 )

2010 (http://ezinearticles.com/?Smartphones—The-Swiss-Army-Knife-of-2010&id=4687669 )

financial planning (http://www.northjersey.com/news/95591694_The_Swiss_Army_knife_of_financial_planning.html )

parenthood (http://mama-lounge.blogspot.com/2010/07/new-swiss-army-knife-of-parenthood.html )

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2 Comments on “Swiss Army Knife: History and Metaphor – INFOGRAPHIC”

  1. antodoms Says:

    Thanks for sharing our link…. regards….

    Anto Dominic,
    Chief Editor,
    Techomag

    Reply

  2. Raúl Says:

    Thanks for sharing the papaheroes.com link..

    Reply

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