A lot of the improvements are not in the products themselves, but in the way they are manufactured. Investment casting, CNC machining etc.
Take nails for example. The main difference between today's nails and the nails used by the pioneers is that today's nails are spit out by the thousands by a machine that turns a big spool of wire into nails.
Today, nails are so affordable that when a house burns down, people don't sift through the ashes to recover the nails.
Last edited by B.L.E.; November 28, 2012 at 08:36 AM.