Knife History: Who Invented The Knife?

Knives are said to have been invented a whopping 2.6 million years ago, a time that precedes Homo sapiens. It is believed that our ‘hominid’ cousins developed these tools from their need for survival. It is one of mankind’s most significant inventions for most of our advancement would not happen today if it weren’t for the knife. The knife was used as a tool to hunt or fish for food, build homes and defend themselves. It is crazy yet wonderful to see the impact such a basic yet useful and practical tool is so commonly used today across all domains; to eat, to cut, to kill. 

It took only 2.6 million years to get from a stone blade to the high tech knives we use today.

The very first knives were a far cry from today’s automatic knives. They were made from stone. They were not refined but rather struck against one another in order to create a sharp edge that became the blade. Even though we may look back now in comparison to the advanced knives we have today, it is impressive to see the knowledge, innovation and resourcefulness used by our ancestors. The stones' blades were ‘arrow-shaped’ to make it most effective and sharp. 

It is important to note that such a long time ago most if not all tools were made from stone only due to being in the Stone age. As the Copper and Bronze ages soon followed, so did technological advancements in knife development and the search for new materials. It was during these ages that the mining of minerals commenced as did trade and interaction with other communities and cultures. Even though new materials had been discovered, they lacked sharpness compared to the stone knives. They did however learn that they could combine both minerals and sharpen the stones for continuous use.

Then, around 3500 years ago the Iron age began and technological advancement came in heavy stride. The discovery of Iron presented new and improved characteristics that could be applied that Copper and Bronze lacked. It was much more resilient and durable but also kept better shape than its predecessors.  Iron alloy steel was made by rubbing carbon, in the form of wood ash, onto the iron blade during the ‘blade-making’ process. This process is still mainly used in practice today for knife and sharp tool making, although new materials are often being introduced to create a variety of different blades. Stainless steel is still the most commonly used material across all knives.

Knives have not changed much since the Iron age and were all fixed blade knives. 600 years ago folding knives were invented. As better materials and mechanisms were developed so evolved the folding knives. Then, eventually around the 18th Century automatic knives or ‘switchblades’ were invented.

Today we have an array of different knife types, blade types, handle designs, engravings, additional tools. Today's knives have evolved greatly and keep adapting to fulfill the current needs across personal and professional use. If we look closely at the timeline stemming from 2.6 million years ago to today the main purpose of a “knife” has drastically changed. Back then it was used to hunt for food and build homes; today it is used as a regular tool for cutting and professional emergencies. It was created out of the need for a weapon and 2.6 million years later has become an EDC (Every Day Carry) tool.

Ownership and carrying is mainly legal but you need to make sure that you are up-to-scratch with your state laws on the types of carry, knives and blade lengths allowed. Please remember that there are some places that prohibit all knives and weapons on premises.