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Dura-Ace Freehubs used a different, smaller thread, which worked only with Dura-Ace threaded sprockets.
(Formerly, you could get an 11-tooth threaded cog for Dura-Ace, but this has been discontinued.) To remove a Uniglide cassette, you use two chain whips, one to hold the cassette, the other to unscrew the smallest sprocket.
Sprockets smaller than 14 teeth used a built-in spacer, but the other splined sprockets were reversible, so that if you wore out one side, you could flip them over and the other side was just like new!
Sprockets with a built-in spacer were available in 5- 6-speed or 7- 8-speed (narrower) versions.
If you wore out your sprockets, or wanted different gear ratios, you could unscrew the cluster and install a new one.
Beginning around 1980, the Shimano "Freehub" largely replaced the conventional threaded rear hub.
Not all Freehub brands share this feature, which is covered by a Shimano patent.
Some newer Freehubs have the right-side bearing farther inboard, but these use oversize axles.
This allowed any brand of freewheel to be mounted on any brand of hub.
With conventional derailer systems, the shift is accomplished by moving the chain sideways until it can no longer mesh with the sprocket that it is on.
It then disengages, and falls on to the next sprocket that is closest to being in line with it.
The smallest sprocket on a Uniglide cassette was not splined, it was threaded.
The threads of this sprocket would hold everything else together.