The quest for a better way to shave has taken many twists and turns over the centuries. During the prehistoric times clam shells, shark teeth, and flint were sharpened and used to shave.
During the later part of the nineteenth century, the most commonly used shaving device was the cut-throat razor which consisted of a metal blade on top of a handle. The blade needed to sharpened time and again. Also, it was tricky to use the blade and required a lot of skill to shave without cutting the skin.
Kampfe brothers are credited for devising the first safety razor in 1875. The razor came with a guard along the razor’s edge which offered protection while shaving. However the issue of frequent sharpening still persisted.
American businessman King Camp Gillette came up with the idea of a disposable blade. The blade was clamped onto the handle and could be replaced once it became blunt. Thus avoiding the trouble of sharpening the blade. These blades were deemed impossible to forge by MIT-trained scientists. They however were proved wrong by Gillette.
William Emery Nickerson, an expert machinist and partner of Gillette came up with an improved version of the razor to better support the thin steel blade. He designed the machinery to mass-produce the blades. They together patented the invention in 1901 and started the Gillette Safety Razor Company.
Gillette’s thin, inexpensive, disposable blade of stamped steel was a huge success. Gillette’s portrait was printed on every package of blades. Unfortunately Gillette lost most of his fortune in the Great Depression of 1930. The Gillette Company thrived independently for a number of years before being purchased by Procter & Gamble Company in 2005.