Swiss Army knife

The Swiss Army knife (French: Couteau suisse, German: Schweizer Offiziersmesser: "Swiss officer's knife", Italian: Coltellino svizzero) is a brand of pocket knife or multi-tool manufactured by Victorinox AG and Wenger SA. The term "Swiss Army knife" was coined by US soldiers after World War II due to the difficulty they had in pronouncing the German name.[1] The Swiss Army knife generally has a blade, as well as various tools, such as screwdrivers and can openers and many others. These attachments are stowed inside the handle of the knife through a pivot point mechanism. The handle is usually red, and features a Victorinox or Wenger "cross" logo or, for military issue knives, the coat of arms of Switzerland. Originating in Ibach, Switzerland, the Swiss Army knife was first produced in 1891 after the company Karl Elsener, which later became Victorinox, won the contract to produce the Swiss Army's Modell 1890 knife from the previous German manufacturer. In 1893 the Swiss cutlery company Paul Boechat & Cie, which later became Wenger, received its first contract from the Swiss military to produce model 1890 knives; the two companies split the contract for provision of the knives from 1908 until Victorinox acquired Wenger in 2005. The design of the knife and its flexibility have both led to worldwide recognition. During the late 1880s, the Swiss Army decided to purchase a new folding pocket knife for their soldiers. This knife was to be suitable for use by the army in opening canned food and disassembling the Swiss service rifle, the Schmidt-Rubin M1889, which required a screwdriver for assembly. In January 1891, the knife received the official designation Modell 1890

The knife had a blade, reamer, can-opener, screwdriver and grips made out of dark oak wood that was later partly replaced with ebony wood. At that time no Swiss company had the necessary production capacity, so the initial order for 15,000 knives was placed with the German knife manufacturer Wester & Co. from Solingen, Germany. These knives were delivered in October 1891. In 1891, Karl Elsener, then owner of a company that made surgical equipment, set out to manufacture the knives in Switzerland itself. At the end of 1891 Elsener took over production of the Modell 1890 knives, but Elsener was not satisfied with its first incarnation. In 1896, Elsener succeeded in attaching tools on both sides of the handle using a special spring mechanism: this allowed him to use the same spring to hold them in place, an innovation at the time.[3] This allowed Elsener to put twice as many features on the knife. On 12 June 1897 this knife featuring a second smaller cutting blade, corkscrew, and wood fiber grips was originally registered with the patent office as The Officer's and Sports Knife, though it was never part of a military contract.[4] Karl Elsener used the cross and shield to identify his knives, the symbol still used today on Victorinox-branded versions. When his mother died in 1909, Elsener decided to name his company "Victoria" in her memory. In 1921 the company started using stainless steel to make the Swiss Army Knife. Stainless steel is also known as "inox", short for the French term acier inoxydable.[5] "Victoria" and "inox" were then combined to create the company name "Victorinox".[6] Victorinox's headquarters and show room are located in the Swiss town of Ibach.