THE HISTORY BEHIND
THE HOUSE THAT CLIPS BUILT
The 1922 Mueller Electric Building is a two-story brick building that was one of the last neighborhood-scale factories. The Mueller Electric company invented and manufactured the iconic “Alligator Clip” that is still used in jumper cables and electronics worldwide. The simple and ingenious alligator clip became a success with broad application, built on the rise of electric power, Cleveland as a manufacturing center, and the talents of Ralph S. Mueller, known as the “Skipper of the Clipper.”
As markets for electricity expanded in the 1930s so did the applications for use of alligator clips, beginning with telephone line testing, then automobile starters; ham radio operation; jumper cables; televisions; toys; household appliances; grounding to drain static from auto tank trucks; airplanes; during surgeries using anesthetic; military ships to avoid magnetic mine detection; electric fences; space satellites and more. The assembly department was run by 48 women who could assemble over 85,000 clips per day.
In 2011, long after its heyday from 1950s to the 1970s, the company was sold to the Desco Corporation in Akron, Ohio where it continued to operate as the Mueller Electric Company.