100 best gadgets ever: The Engineering Age

Take a trip back in time with Stuff to the dawn of the gadget age – when technology was mechanical and went clunk
Mini factory

In the early days, gadgeteers didn't have touchscreens and octa-core processors to play with.

In the very early days, they didn't even have electricity. But despite that, these gadgets from a time when technology went "clunk" have weathered the ages, and are still in widespread use even today. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And if it is broke, fix it with a wrench.

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife (1891)

1890 replica Swiss Army Knife

Little wonder the Swiss take an evasive attitude to war when their army’s best-known weapon is a combination corkscrew and paper knife. Face it, you’re going to look a bit silly turning up to a Cruise missile fight brandishing a nail file. Still, no Scout worth his woggle has ever been caught without a Swiss Army Knife to hand.

Victorinox's classic double-hinge design remains essentially unaltered since its introduction 123 years ago, and while more and more tools have been added to this trusty pocket shed – the largest version has 87 tools and weighs nearly a kilo and a half – no one has even used the hoof pick for anything other than vandalising a school desk.