Wire cutting tools, although around before, came into their own in America during the 1800s. Barbed wire was invented to keep cattle from straying and wire cutters were required to maintain the fences.
They were also used to remove unwanted fences. In Texas in 1883, the battle between would-be land owners and established ranchers, who wanted to have public land to graze their cattle on, came to a head with the Fence Cutting Wars. Demand for wire cutters rocketed as ranchers sneaked out and cut through fences in the dead of night!
The First World War caused a leap forward in wire cutting tool designs. Soldiers needed small, portable cutters that would not make too much noise as they cut through enemy barbed wire and phone lines.
Since then, wire cutters have diversified into many different types, each carefully designed for specific uses. The diagonal cutting pliers are a simple modification of a straightforward cutting tool design to allow wires and nails to be cut closer to a solid surface than normal.