King C. Gillette was born in Fon du Lac, Wis., and while residing in Boston, received patent #775,134 for the disposable safety razor on November 15, 1904. Prior to the disposable razor, shaving was done with a straight-edge razor which had a thick, sharp blade, making it dangerous. The blade also needed continuous sharpening, making it expensive because the blade soon became worn and could no longer be used. Gillette wanted to create a razor blade that would not need sharpening and could be disposed of once it became dull. He invented a razor blade made out of very thin sheet-steel that was placed in a holder to secure the blade for shaving. Once the blade became dull, it was discarded and replaced by a new one, using the same holder.
In 1901, Gillette formed the American Safety Razor Company (soon thereafter renamed for Gillette himself). For the first time, using his portrait and signature on the packaging (trademark registration #0056921), razor blades were sold in multiples, with the razor handle a one-time purchase. The Gillette Safety Razor Company has thrived for 100 years, and over the decades expanded its line to such well-known products as Foamy® shaving cream (trademark registration #1015038), Right Guard® antiperspirant (trademark registration #0692546), and Duracell batteries (trademark registration #0793273). Today, Gillette has over $10 billion in sales, in over 200 countries.
These patents and trademarks, as well as the more than 6 million patents issued since the first in 1790 and the 2.3 million trademarks registered since 1870, can be seen on the Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office website at www.uspto.gov.
Last year USPTO issued 182,223 patents and registered 127,794 trademarks.