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During 1961–2005, the pocket knives issued by the Swiss military were produced exclusively by Victorinox and Wenger.
Up to 2008 Victorinox AG and Wenger SA supplied about 50,000 knives to the military of Switzerland each year, and manufactured many more for export, mostly to the United States.
In 1893, the Swiss cutlery company Paul Boéchat & Cie, which later became Wenger, received its first contract from the Swiss military to produce model 1890 knives; the two companies split the contract for provision of the knives from 1908 until Victorinox acquired Wenger in 2005.
A cultural icon of Switzerland, the design of the knife and its versatility have both led to worldwide recognition.
During the late 1880s, the Swiss Army decided to purchase a new folding pocket knife for their soldiers.
This knife was to be suitable for use by the army in opening canned food and disassembling the Swiss service rifle, the Schmidt–Rubin, which required a screwdriver for assembly.