Some time ago I was looking to buy a geometric set square that can be used to draw angles (“Geodreieck” in German) in the UK where I live. I visited several stores and found a lot of other geometric tools, but no such triangles. There was a lot of toolsets available for maths classes in school and most of them had a half-circle angle measuring tool, a so-called “protractor”, and other shapes but no triangles with equal sides.
As somebody who is used to these triangles for drawing and measuring everything, I wondered about the reasons for why I couldn’t find any. After reading the corresponding article on wikipedia I uncovered a very interesting fact: The Austrian company ARISTO has the original design for these tools patented and (I think) it totally dominates the German markets with their design.
In England and probably other English speaking countries people use other set squares and the half-circle protractor tool. As a result of this I couldn’t find any geometric triangles that was similar to the ones I used to have in Germany and Austria.
The protractor has a very useful side-effect: Students can not use the right angle of the triangle to try to draw right angles on paper – which is nearly impossible to do right. But its overall design is inferior to the “Geodreieck”, with which you can measure and draw at the same time, since the measuring focus point is on the edge of the ruler, whereas with the protractor you can only either measure or draw, since the focus point is behind the ruler edge, inside the plastic.
I think this story is a surprising example of how strong a product brand can be in one country and nonexistant in another. I myself ended up buying none of those English rulers, simply because none of them was like the equal sided triangles with the yellow stripes that I was used to. In the store I did not think long. My decision was based on the years of experience I had with the product I was looking for.
I cannot remember having seen any other rulers, protractors or set squares in widespread use in school in Germany or Austria. ARISTO has a de facto monopoly there. Which is definitely at least partly due to the triangles excellent design. It is time to conquer the English markets too, ARISTO!