|This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Czech Wikipedia for th week, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You use it probably at least several times a day, no matter whether you wear trousers, jackets, skirts or dresses. You don’t think of it unless it breaks spectacularly, making you e.g ashamed in public. Today the Wikipedia reminded me of one of the most important invention in the clothing industry.
On its way up the zipper has passed through the hands of several dedicated inventors, none convinced the general public to accept the zipper as part of everyday costume. The magazine and fashion industry made the novel zipper the popular item it is today, but it happened nearly eighty years after the zipper’s first appearance.
Swedish-born (who later immigrated to Canada), Gideon Sundback, can be called the Father of the zipper. The history of his invention is very romantic – he did it because he missed his wife… An electrical engineer, he was hired to work for the Universal Fastener Company. Good design skills and a marriage to the plant-manager’s daughter Elvira Aronson led Sundback to the position of head designer at Universal. He was responsible for improving the far from perfect ‘Judson C-curity Fastener.’ Unfortunately, Sundback’s wife died in 1911. The grieving husband busied himself at the design table and by December of 1913, he had designed the modern zipper.
Gideon Sundback increased the number of fastening elements from four per inch to ten or eleven, had two facing-rows of teeth that pulled into a single piece by the slider, and increased the opening for the teeth guided by the slider. The patent for the ‘Separable Fastener’ was issued in 1917. Sundback also created the manufacturing machine for the new zipper. The ‘S-L’ or scrapless machine took a special Y-shaped wire and cut scoops from it, then punched the scoop dimple and nib, and clamped each scoop on a cloth tape to produce a continuous zipper chain. Within the first year of operation, Sundback’s zipper-making machinery was producing a few hundred feet of fastener per day.
Today you can find it everywhere and you can even buy some original jewellery created of it.
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