AKA Norman Bernard Larsen
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Inventor, Chemist
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: WD-40
Norm Larsen was only high school educated, but taught himself enough science to work as a chemist, and in 1952 he founded the Rocket Chemical Company in San Diego. With the company's two other employees, he set out to formulate an anti-corrosive agent for use in the aerospace industry. He succeeded on his 40th chemical concoction, which was called Water Displacement Formula #40 -- WD-40 for short. It was originally used in industrial applications, until Larsen and his staff noticed that it was also ideal for all manner of unintended household purposes -- an ideal lubricant, moisture retardant, degreaser, and rust preventative, which is also useful for loosening rusted bolts and stuck locks, removing bumper sticker residue, cleaning stains from clothes or carpet, etc. Loyal customers swear that WD-40 can also alleviate arthritis pain and reduce swelling after bee stings, though the manufacturer makes no claims regarding such esoteric uses.
To avoid disclousure of the chemical construction of WD-40, the product was never patented. Larsen sold the business in 1956 for $20,000, and went on to found Corrosion Reaction Consultants (now CRC Industries) in 1956. WD-40 was first packaged in aerosol cans and offered to retail customers in 1958. Rocket Chemical was renamed WD-40 Company in 1969, and Larsen died in 1970. According to the company, its namesake product has been slightly refoirmulated only once, in the early 1960s, with the addition of mineral spirits that help mask the product's oily smell.
High School: Cheshire Academy, Cheshire, CT (1941)
WD-40 Company Co-Founder & President (1952-56)
CRC Industries Co-Founder & President (1956-70)
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