Electric Razor – Mechanical to the cut!
Engineering in History
On May 13, 1930, Colonel Jacob Schick obtained patent No. 1,757,978 for his dry electric shaver. The idea of creating an electric razor came to him while he recuperated from an injury suffered while doing some gold exploration in Alaska and British Columbia in the early 1910s. Finding it difficult to shave and, at the same time, having time on his hands while recuperating, Schick drew up crude plans that featured a shaver with a shaving head driven by a flexible cable and powered by a grapefruit-sized external motor. Plans for the machine were sent out, and manufacturers quickly rejected the bulky invention. Further plans to perfect the electric dry shaver were put on hold when Schick returned to active military duty during World War I.
Later, inspired by weaponry he saw in the service, Schick went to work to develop the Magazine Repeating Razor, and in 1925 he started a company of the same name. The razor’s design used the principles of repeating firearms, and blades were sold in clips and loaded into the razor, without ever having to touch them. Although the Magazine Repeating Razor did well in the marketplace, Schick went back to developing the dry electric razor, and in 1927 his invention was fully marketable. So sure was he of the electric dry shaver’s potential, Schick sold the assets of his razor company in 1928 in order to capitalize the new invention.
In 1930 the firm was incorporated as Schick Dry Shaver, Inc. Although the early electric razor did not meet widespread acceptance, as Schick had hoped, he was able to open a factory in Stamford which employed 100 people. The business grew steadily as new models were introduced, and in 1940 Schick Dry Shaver was incorporated in Delaware as Rainbow, Inc. In 1946 the name was changed to Schick, Inc., and in 1981 Norelco took over operations. Today, Norelco is located where Schick operated his electric shaver factory in Stamford.