John Oster immigrated to America alone at age 15, settling in Chicago. He served as a tool and die maker at Western Electric, before moving to Racine, Wis. After several years Mr. Oster, along with three associates, started a tool and die business. They manufactured blades for hand and electric clippers, and in 1921 the company began manufacturing and selling hand clippers.
In 1924 the company became the John Oster Manufacturing Co., and in 1928 the company bought the patents and tooling for the first portable, motor-driven electric clipper. Mr. Oster recognized the need for detachable, interchangeable blades, and developed and patented the first such innovation. In 1935 the John Oster Co. bought the patent for the Stim-U-Lax massage machine.
The Oster Lather Machine was introduced in 1937. Mr. Oster was also a farmer, and developed one of the foremost herds of Brown Swiss cattle in the country. He was inducted into the Barber Hall of Fame in 1972 to recognize his very significant contributions to barbering.