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Henry F. Phillips

File:Phillips screw head.jpg
Phillips screw head

Henry Frank Phillips (June 4, 1889 – April 13, 1958)[1] was a U.S. businessman from Portland, Oregon. The Phillips-head ("crosshead") screw and screwdriver are named after him.[2]

The importance of the crosshead screw design lies in its self-centering property, useful on automated production lines that use powered screwdrivers.[3] Phillips' major contribution was in driving the crosshead concept forward to the point where it was adopted by screwmakers and automobile companies.


An engineer, Phillips was an acquaintance of John P. Thompson,[4] who sold his self-centering design to Phillips in 1935 after failing to interest manufacturers. Phillips formed the Phillips Screw Company in 1934, and after refining the design himself (U.S. Patent #2,046,343, U.S. Patents #2,046,837 to 2,046,840) for the American Screw Company of Providence, Rhode Island, succeeded in getting the design quickly adopted by industry.[5] One of the first customers, in 1936, was General Motors for its Cadillac assembly-lines. By 1940, 85% of U.S. screw manufacturers had a license for the design.[6] Due to failing health, Phillips retired in 1945. He died in 1958.


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  2. ^ U.S. Patent 2,046,837
  3. ^ Adams, Cecil. "Why did this guy Phillips think we needed a new type of screw?". The Straight Dope. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "Phillips Timeline - 1935". Phillips Screw Company. Retrieved 18 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Cross Shaped Slots Help Guide Screws" Popular Science, January 1936, page 38 middle of page
  6. ^ "About Phillips - A Historic View". Phillips Screw Company. Retrieved 2010-01-11.