Greatest Thing Ever Done to Pants
April 29, Sundback Patents Zipper
Swedish engineer Gideon Sundback of Hoboken patents all-purpose zipper, the first of his several patents as he continually improved the design.
The zipper or concept for the zipper didn’t appear overnight but was developed over many years as technology and the ability to actually manufacture the concept became available.
A fellow by the name of Whitcomb Judson was the first American inventor to conceive and construct workable interlocking teeth (below) . The device had its debut at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Problem was, the device wasn’t very reliable in real world use.
Gideon Sundback (left) was a Swedish-American electrical engineer working for the Fastener Manufacturing and Machine Company as head designer. After his 1913 patent he devoted himself to improving the fastener and obtained several other patents for his zipper designs.
The popular North American term zipper came from B.F Goodrich Co when they opted to use Sundback’s fastener on a new type of rubber boot and called the fastener, the zipper – the name stuck. The two main uses at that time were boots and tobacco pouches.
It wasn’t until 20 years later that the fashion industry began promoting the novel closure. In 1937 the zipper beat the button in the “Battle of the Fly”.