For a long time, trunks and twigs were used as presses, and the rope tie was the hinge. The first forceps with an axis-rod were invented, apparently, even in the Neolithic - more than five thousand years ago. Then they were made of wood (possibly burnt to give it more hardness). In the copper and bronze ages, many miniature jewelry tools appear. The heyday of blacksmithing also came at that time, and in the forge you can’t do without tongs.
New technologies spawned new tools. Some finds are still a mystery: for example, an almost modern type of steel medical instruments from the time of Ancient Rome. In the Middle Ages, engineering generously supplied the Great Inquisition with instruments of torture. Engravings of those years in terms of the range of products presented compete with current catalogs. But starting from the Renaissance, the vice and pliers are more in demand by mechanics: gunsmiths, jewelers, machine builders.
In the 19th century, complex multi-link systems appeared: snap ring pullers, wire cutters, cutters, etc. There is a lot of universal tool, but universality is within the framework of professional specificity. For example, carpenter pliers are made at the same time with a hammer, a miniature hatchet, pliers, a screwdriver, a nail clipper and wire cutters.
In the manufacture of pliers, Europeans often used casting, Americans made "multi-linkage" from stamping. The first is stronger, the second is easier. By the way, a century ago, many products were made much more reliable than the current ones. What are, for example, “unshakable pliers,” whose levers are not overlapped, as they are now, but enter into each other, forming a symmetrical design. But who now remembers that technology!