WD-40 was invented in 1953. WD-40 literally stands for water displacement 40th attempt. That’s the name straight out of the lab book used by the chemist who helped develop WD-40 back in 1953. Norm Larsen, was attempting to concoct a formula to prevent corrosion, a task which is done by displacing water. Norm’s persistence paid off when he perfected the formula for WD-40 on his 40th try.
WD-40 was invented by the three founders of the Rocket Chemical Company of San Diego, California. The team of inventors were working on a line of industrial rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry.
WD-40 was first used to protect the outer skin of the Atlas Missile from rust and corrosion. Norm Larsen repackaged WD-40 into aerosol cans for consumer use and the product was sold to the general public in 1958.
In 1969, the Rocket Chemical Company was renamed after its only product WD-40.