It is impossible to know how man discovered fire because fire predates humanity’s ability to record its thoughts. Fire obviously predates humans as well, and humanoid use of fire was established prior to the dawn of man. For mankind’s ancestors fire was probably discovered due to natural phenomena such as a lightening strike on dry tinder. Harnessing and controlling fire would mean creating it, and for centuries this proved to be a difficult and dangerous task for man.
The name of one of the great inventors has been lost to history as the innovator who discovered that a spark could be created by rubbing two sticks together is unknown. This simple but effect way to start a fire was used until human ingenuity came up with the invention of the fire drill. The drill was a simple device, but it made building and managing fires simpler. By taking a piece of hardwood and driving it into a hole of softer wood, a small burning ember would be created.
The fire drill improved upon the rudimentary method of rubbing stick together by increasing ignition speed and not allowing sparks to fly. But the new manner to build a fire had its drawback. The device was clumsy and not conveniently stuffed into a pocket. Fire technology would catch up with the demands of fire starters centuries later with the invention of the chemical match in 1805.
By 1827, English chemist John Walker improved upon the design to create the friction match, which is essentially the same as matches used today. While the new invention might have made fire more accessible, but the rapid starting and long burning matches caused many wooden villages to burn. Some experts even warned against the use of the match, but it was against human nature to ignore progress.
Rather than turn his back to the invention of the friction match, inventor J. E Lindstrom simply improved upon its design. The safety match was just as easy to light as the friction match, but it extinguished easier to prevent a controlled fire from becoming a disaster.