Did you know that the First Doctor, William Hartnell, never had a sonic screwdriver?? It was not introduced into the show until the Second Doctor series "The War Games". The Sixth and Seventh Doctors also did not have one.
At the beginning of the Third Doctor's tenure in 1970, producer Barry Letts complained that the sonic screwdriver was turning into a "magic wand" capable of doing almost anything, and scripts were suffering as a result. He limited its use to sound waves only, and it made relatively few appearances.
In 1974, 1975, and 1976 (the first years of the Fourth Doctor's tenure), producer Philip Hinchcliffe demanded that it disappear. It made only a handful of appearances, but made a roaring comeback in 1977 under new producer Graham Williams.
But when legendary producer John Nathan-Turner took over in 1981, the device again saw little use. It was eliminated from the show in 1982.
The sonic screwdriver did not appear again until the Doctor Who television movie in 1996. (It was also the only time the Seventh Doctor got to use it.)
It has consistently been used in the new series, almost to the point of silliness (I think). All the Doctor has to shout is "soniciarum scrwdriverensis!", wave it up and down, and he can reprogram computers and open tombs, and pilot space ships and raise the dead.