Have you ever imagined how modern might have been like if the humble zipper didn’t exist? If this is the case, it would be difficult for your clothes to stay put. If a stiff breeze is blowing, you won’t be able to zip up your jacket and you will be exposed to the cold. Your jeans wouldn’t be such a fun to wear if they didn’t have zippers at all.
Do you love to go camping? If yes, you surely know the important role that zippers play there as well. Your backpack or suitcase might spill all of its contents everywhere if this was not zipped shut. You could also get cold when nighttime comes if your tent or sleeping bag didn’t zip up tight and nice.
The very first methods used for fastening clothes were actually buttons. The buttons worked well most of the time. But still, intelligent inventors looked for even better methods of keeping clothing garments closed properly.
The creation of the modern zipper was an arduous and long process that involved a few people. Elias Howe, the inventor of the sewing machine, received a patent for an “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure” in 1851. Even though the idea was good enough, Howe wasn’t able to market it. This was almost a given because he was too busy with the promotions of the sewing machine.
More than four decades later, Whitcomb Judson further improved upon on the concept of Howe. He marketed this new invention as the “Clasp Locker” that he designed to be used as fastener for shoes. He founded the Universal Fastener Company to produce his new device. The product was officially launched in 1893 during the World’s Fair held in Chicago. However, it still failed to fly.
It was Gideon Sundback who eventually designed the modern zipper in 1913. He was employed at the Universal Fastener Company located in Hoboken, New Jersey. He received a patent in 1917for his “Separable Fastener.”
This new design of Sundback increased the number of the fastening elements to 10 for every inch. This included two interlocking teeth rows that latch together through the help of the slider. Sundback’s design was the very first fastener to look like what everyone now knows as a zipper.
However, it wasn’t Sundback who thought of the name! It was the B.F. Goodrich Company that first used the name “zipper.” They included the device of Sundback on a new kind of rubber boots. They referred to the device a “zipper,” and obviously, this name stuck.
During their early days, zippers were primarily used on boots and tobacco pouches. It would be another two decades before the fashion industry started adding zippers to clothing. Among its original uses on clothing was as a replacement for the buttons on pants.
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