“It’s essential to recognize that no tool... can approach the vastness of the universe and life itself."
Hanz Decoz, numerologist
In appearance it is a simple piece of metal with a hexagonal cross-section and a ninety-degree bend about three-quarters along its length. Called variously Hex key, Alien key, Alum key, Inbus, and Unbrako key, this uncomplicated device may date back to the 1920s. The Unbrako company developed a hexagonal-head key and screw in the 1920s which went on to become popular in the United States and Britain.
During the same decade'it is claimed that Italian Egidio Brugola, founder in 1926 of Brugola manufacturing company, also created a hexagonal- head fastener, which was the foundation for a business that still thrives today. In Italy (unsurprisingly) the Alien key is called the "Brugola." A couple of decades later, in 1943, the Alien Manufacturing company took out a trademark on an "Alien Key"—a name that would become popular in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Whatever you choose to call it, however, it is undoubtedly one of the most ubiquitous tools on the planet. Its simplicity is undoubtedly one of the many things that makes it such a popular tool, plus the fact that it is small and lightweight, yet being cast from a solid piece of metal is hard-wearing. Either end of the key can be used, which adds versatility to its use.
Used extensively in the motor and bicycle industry because the working part of the hex-screw is protected from the elements, it has also recently found popularity with the rise of the "flat-pack" furniture trade, where, because they are relatively cheap to produce, manufacturers are able to include a hex-key with the furniture.