He saw the perfect safety razor in a dream eight years before its production
KING CAMP GILLETTE (1855-1932)
The ancestors of King Camp Gillette, the inventor of the safety razor, were French Huguenots who arrived in America as early as the 17th century. In 1871, at the age of sixteen, his father lost all his possessions in the great Chicago fire.
The young King began working as a salesman in hardware. Inventing was his hobby, but the big breakthrough did not come. By accident, he was employed by William Painter, the inventor of the bottle cap.
Painter advised him to look for a thing that people would have to throw away after use, so that they would need new ones every time. In 1895, while shaving, he saw the new razor as if in a dream. 'It was all over.
It has never changed in form and principle,' he said later.
Technically, however, it proved impossible to roll steel so thin and then cut it into small, sharpened plates. It took eight years for the brightest engineers to realize Gillette's dream.
Gillett: 'If I had been technically trained, I would have given up the idea long ago.'
In 1903 the time had come: 51 devices and 168 blades were sold that year. At the end of 1904 there were 90,000 and 12.4 million respectively.
His associates thought that the Gillette brand should be linked to a face, that it should be as recognizable internationally as the portrait of George Washington on a dollar bill. Gillette, who looked good, was willing to lend his own head for that.
Eventually, his photo would appear on razor blade wrappers more than a hundred billion times.
The million American soldiers who went to Europe in 1917 before World War I were equipped with Gillette razors. 'Shave yourself' was the advertising slogan. Before the Second World War it became 'Shave every day'.
The two wars contributed greatly to the spread of the blades, both within the United States and in Europe.
From 1909, when the success continued, Gillette gradually lost interest in his firm. He retired to the West Coast, near Los Angeles, and devoted himself to another passion that dominated his life, namely developing utopias.
He wrote book after book to explain that the existing competitive system consumes 85 to 90% of human energy and fuels greed. He proposed a global cartel that would regulate existing world production.
He offered President Theodore Roosevelt a million dollars to preside over such a trust for four years. He thanked wisely. Outside his firm, his businesses did not work out so well.
Part of his fortune was lost through real estate speculation, another part was lost in the construction of huge date plantations. Gillette would always be a dreamer. He died in 1932, a few days after his firm launched the well-known Gillette Blue Blade.
He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, Los Angeles.
In 1955 the Gillette Company acquired the American fountain pen factory Paper Mate, in 1967 the German home appliance factory Braun ag, in 1972 the French luxury goods firm ST Dupont (fountain pens and pipes), in 1987 Waterman (fountain pens) and in 1993 Parker Pen .
The takeover of battery manufacturer Duracell dates from 1996. Gillette became one of the most feared acquirers in the world. As early as 1977, the company was proud to announce that King Camp Gillette would no longer recognize the company itself.
She sold 850 products to more than a billion consumers worldwide. It had fifty factories in 21 countries and employed 35,000 people.