THE BLOG
01/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Coolest Tool: A Swiss Army Knife with a 2GB Memory Stick

A friend wrote to say she'd found the right gift for every man in her family --- and it was small, affordable and easy-to-wrap..

I read on, interest mounting.

It was a Swiss Army Knife.

I deflated. That? Again?

In fact, not again --- where you might expect to find a toenail clipper, this knife has a two-gigabyte memory stick.

And just to underscore its coolness, the body of the knife is translucent, not the standard-issue red.

At $75.68, this really is quite the impressive gift. (For $34.85, you can get a similar knife, just with 512 megabytes of memory in its USB stick.)

The modernity is fascinating because, as brands go, you can hardly find anything more old school than Victorinox, which manufactures this knife.

A short history: Karl Elsener started the company in 1884. He named it after his mother Victoria; later, he added "inox" to suggest stainless steel. In 1890, he sold his first knife to the Swiss army. American soldiers brought these knives home after World War II; because they had so many uses, the craze began.

Victorinox is now a multi-product company --- luggage, kitchen knives, clothing and watches, all branded with a white cross on a red crest --- but every knife is still made in Switzerland. And the founding family still runs the business. Well into his 80s, Carl Elsener III was still cycling to work, where he was joined in the executive office by Carl Elsener IV.

If you've ever used one of these knives, you know it's annoyingly well made --- the only way to need a replacement is to lose one or try to carry one onto a plane. Those who own the memory-enhanced knife seem to swoon. And if there's nothing you or the men in your life want to remember, there are dozens of non-digital Swiss Army knives --- just as Karl Elsener envisioned.

[Cross-posted from HeadButler.com]