Friday, December 16, 2016

History of the Zipper

Last week when my 8 year old was supposed to be in bed sleeping she was contemplating zippers instead. Yes, you heard me right, zippers. She came out and said, "Mom how exactly do zippers work? Who invented them?". I told her to go back to bed and that in the morning we would google all about zippers. There is definitely never a dull moment with kiddos. Their little minds are constantly thinking and wondering. 

Instead of trying to summarize I decided to take an excerpt from here.

"The origins of the zipper date back to 1851, when Massachusetts machinist Elias Howe patented the “Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.” His contraption was loosely similar to the zipper as we know it today, though it was inefficiently pulled shut with a flimsy string. Over time, Howe grew frustrated with slow progress and gave up on his prototype. After all, he had his original claim to fame to fall back on -- the first-ever U.S. patent for a lockstitch sewing machine."

"Four decades later, serial inventor Whitcomb Judson picked up where Howe left off, patenting his own newfangled fastener. The mechanical engineer and salesman called the bulky doodad the “Clasp Locker or Unlocker for Shoes.” He created the hook-and-eye-style closure as a single-motion solution to the many buttons that made the popular boots of the day such a headache to put on and take off, especially after a long, grueling day’s work in a factory."

"One of the next makers to take a crack at the concept was Gideon Sundback, a Swedish-American electrical engineer. Between 1906 and 1913, he busied himself streamlining Judson’s design, eventually devising two neighboring rows of intermeshing teeth. The sturdy metal prongs satisfyingly yanked into a single unit with a slider pull tab. And so was born the “Separable Fastener” zipper we know and take for granted today."  

I laughed when I read that when the zipper was first introduced the response was, "That will never catch on and last." I cannot imagine what we would do without zippers today! Again, I love that homeschooling gives me the opportunity to deviate from our normal curriculum to study things such as zippers. 

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