6 November 1928: Jacob Schick patents the first electric razor

On this day in 1928, Jacob Schick was issued a patent for the electric razor after he invented one based on the reloading mechanism of a repeating rifle.

You could be forgiven for thinking that combining razor blades with the reloading mechanism of a repeating rifle sounds downright dangerous. But in fact, it was the basis of a design for a safety razor that Jacob Schick came up with in 1921.

At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, Schick joined the US Army and was sent to the Philippines. After nearly dying from dysentery, he was posted to Alaska for health reasons, but found the cold made it difficult to shave. 

Hot water was hard to come by, and numb fingers made it dangerous to replace worn-out razor blades. A self-reloading or repeating razor solved the problem of the numb fingers, but not the water. So Schick put his mind to inventing a dry motorised razor.

In 1925, Schick set up the Schick Magazine Repeating Razor Company in New York. The repeating razors were a commercial hit, and three years later, Schick sold his stake to the American Chain & Cable Company.

Schick poured all his energy and money into finally launching his electric razor, for which he received a patent in November 1928. The electric razor was launched in 1931. Schick sold over a million electric razors in two years, at $25 each. But while he was a great inventor, Schick was no accountant, and it wasn't long before the taxman came after him.

In 1935, Schick fled to Canada. He renounced his US citizenship and spent the rest of his life being pursued over dodgy business practices.

Meanwhile, other companies took advantage of his self-imposed exile to muscle in on the electric razor market. Soon after, Jacob Schick contracted pneumonia and died in 1937.

Recommended

27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party
This day in history

27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party

Responding to the need for a single political party to represent the trade unions, the Labour Party was formed on this day in 1900.
27 Feb 2021
24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement
This day in history

24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement

On this day in 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer made their engagement official in front of the world's press at Buckingham Palace.
24 Feb 2021
24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down
This day in history

24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down

On this day in 1809, celebrated playwright Richard Sheridan was effectively ruined when the Drury Lane theatre went up in smoke.
24 Feb 2021
23 February 1963: The case of the electrified Land Rover
This day in history

23 February 1963: The case of the electrified Land Rover

On this day in 1963, an unsuspecting bobby gets a shock when he stumbles upon an electrified Land Rover.
23 Feb 2021

Most Popular

What is “yield curve control” and why is it coming to a central bank near you?
Government bonds

What is “yield curve control” and why is it coming to a central bank near you?

Central banks around the world are determined not to let interest rates go up too quickly or by too much – a practice known as “yield curve control”. …
1 Mar 2021
Expect more turbulence as the market calls central bankers’ bluff
Stockmarkets

Expect more turbulence as the market calls central bankers’ bluff

With bond yields climbing and stockmarkets sliding, markets are hoping central bankers will step in again to repress interest rates – but that won’t …
26 Feb 2021
Why you should still put money into a cash Isa
Cash ISAs

Why you should still put money into a cash Isa

Interest rates may be lousy, but tax-free saving into a cash Isa is still a good idea.
23 Feb 2021