The zipper is a marvel of the textile industry. It is often used as a fastener in pants, shorts and on the top of pockets and bags. Zippers or zips as they are commonly known are also used on sporting goods and camping accessories. Zippers come in all different shapes, colors and lengths and are a wonderful way to securely fasten two pieces of material together. The zipper was made popular by the fashion industry, but that was some eighty years after its original invention. So who invented the zipper? Read on to find out.
The Invention of the Zipper
The first mention of an object that is similar to today’s zippers was a patent in 1851. Elias Howe, the inventor of the sewing machine was given a patent for an idea that he called an ‘Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.’ This invention was never marketed and as such Howe is not credited with the invention of the zipper. It was not until forty-four years later that an actual working device that looks something like today’s zipper was marketed by Mr. Whitcomb Judson. He called his invention a clasp locker and it was designed to fasten shoes. It was a very complicated hook and eye system and did not meet with much commercial success. However, Mr. Whitcomb Judson is credited with the invention of the zipper, but he did not call it this. Mr. Judson along with a businessman Colonel Lewis Walker launched the Universal Fastener Company. Later on down the track a man named Gideon Sundback, an electrical engineer, was hired to work for the Universal Fastener Company. His job was to improve upon the clasp locker. By 1913 he had created what is now known as the zipper. The zipper got its name when it was used by the B. F. Goodrich Company when they used it as part of their design for a new type of shoe. The name zipper stuck and it is now the name commonly used for the device.