Invention of the Zipper

Did you ever wonder how the zipper was invented?  April 29, is known as the Zipper Day, a day dedicated to a device we all use but never give much though to ( unless it’s stuck ,of course, and  here we have the easy ways to fix the stuck zipper! )

In 1851 a man named Elias Howe, and American inventor who invented the sewing machine, obtained a patent for what he called an “Automatic Continuous Clothing Closure”. But it could not become a success. It didn’t really look or operate anything like the zipper we know today; it operated as individual clasps that the user had to join together manually, and pull shut by using a string. Howe did not continue developing his model.

40 years later a man named Whitcomb Judson came out with a “clasp locker for shoes” which served solely as a shoe fastener, but it was very similar to Howe’s original patent. The design was essentially a guide used to close the space between a  shoe’s clasps on one side to the attachments on the other. But the application was not easy and Mass production was much more difficult.

In 1893 Judson opened the Universal Fastener Company in New Jersey and was issued a second patent for a device that used metal hooks and eyes that bad to be manually laced into the boot or shoe , but it was an improvement because the devise functioned as a single unit instead of as individual clasps. But it would spring open on occasions and eventually flopped when debuted in Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

Then in 1906 , Giden Sundback, a Swedish American electrical engineer who was hired to work at Universal Fastener Company, developed a model he called the “Plako Fastener” but it too had trouble staying closed when bent.

Finally, in 1913, Sundback revised the design. He developed a model that used interlocking oval scoops (instead of hooks) that could be joined together tightly by a slider in one single movement. This final design is recognised as what we know as the modern Zipper. The patent for the “ Separate Fastener” was issued in 1917.

In the early stages of production, zipper were used for boots and tobacco pouches . during World war I the device was used by military and Navy designers for flying suits and money belts, which helped prove to the public that the device was truly durable.

By 1923, the B.F Goodrich Company, who used the product for boots and galoshes , gave the device its name of “Zipper” and the rest , as we say is history.


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  1. Hey there An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who had been doing a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me dinner because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about this topic here on your website. gracias

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