The story starts when Henry Phillips purchased a crude form of the recessed screw head concept from an inventor named J.P. Thompson. Phillips developed that screw into a workable form. He founded the Phillips Screw Company in Oregon in 1933, but never actually made screws. He had called on every established screw manufacturer in the US and was told simply that the screw could not be made.
Phillips then called on the American Screw Company, a newcomer to the industry whose president personally became interested in the new product. Despite the opposition of his engineers, who like others in the industry, had insisted it could not be made.
According to one printed report, the president of American Screw Company said: "I finally told my head men that I would put on pension all who insisted it could not be done. After that an efficient method was evolved to manufacture the fasteners and now we have licensed all other major companies to use it."