A Brief History of Leo Wahl

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The road which lead to the creation of Wahl Clipper Corporation began when Sterling High School student, Leo J. Wahl experimented with a vibrating electromagnetic motor in 1911. Later as an engineering student at the University of Illinois, Leo Wahl designed a vibrating medical massager for his uncle J. Frank Wahl, who began manufacturing the massagers in a small plant in Sterling, Illinois. Leo spent his spare time selling these massagers to barbershops, where he recognized the need to improve barber tools. When his uncle was called into service during the Mexican Revolution, Leo Wahl took over the manufacturing business and began experimenting on a new electric hair clipper.

On October 14 1919, Leo J. Wahl applied for patents on his newly developed electromagnetic hair clipper, and manufacturing began at the Wahl Manufacturing Company. It was the first practical clipper with the drive motor in the hand, rather than connected to a separate motor through a flexible shaft. By the end of 1920, his factory had manufactured and sold thousands of of clippers to barbers all over the United States. In these early years, Mr. Wahl concentrated on working directly with barbers to improve the efficiency and convenience of the clipper.

On February 2 1921, Leo Wahl, having received a patent on his new clipper, purchased 100% of the Wahl Manufacturing Company stock and renamed and incorporated the business as Wahl Clipper Corporation. Growth was rapid, financed from manufacturing earnings and patent royalties.

Learn more of the 98+ year history of Wahl Clipper Corporation here.


  1. I love barbering and would like to see the profession regulated in Liberia in a way that encourages more young people mastering the art. The Liberia Cosmetology Union look forward to making Wahl products accessible and affordable to barbers and their clients in Liberia.

  2. Where does the name Wahl originates from ? The name sounds german

  3. I am a licensed massage therapist of 35 years and have been collecting the history of massage and have several Wahl products that are really old. I am ready to let some of them go if anyone is interested.

  4. Author

    Please give our customer service a call at 1-800-776-9245!

  5. The Name Wahl is German. The family could be of german/austrian/swiss , maybe german-jewish ancestry.
    Also considering the location of Illinois plus the fact that he an most of his relatives were engineers, my money would be on german ancestry. Engineering has a strong tradition there, and some of the best engineers came and still come from german-language countries. Also I believe Illinois, just like Pennsylvania and Michigan had a high influx of ethnic german immigrants.
    I’m no Barber myself, but I just love the quality and sturdyness of Wahl Products.

  6. Am A Proud user of Wahl Clipper.
    Incomparable to no other clipper.
    It’s vibration is the Best.
    I was the third runner up in the Wahl Charity Contest organised by Chief Victor Ngozi Mbadigwe in Lagos State, Nigeria.
    By the Grace of God am praying to be the 1st this time around.
    I love Wahl.
    I also encourage my fellow Barbers to own Wahl Products. It’s the best.
    I would love to be the official Ambassador of Wahl Clipper In Nigeria and Abroad.
    Thanks to GOD for the great invention by Sir Leo J. Wahl.

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