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The invention of zipper took place after many attempts that made by several dedicated inventors. The first attempt took place after mid-nineteenth century. In this respect Elias Howe, who invented the sewing machine received a patent in 1851 for an 'Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.' Perhaps it was the success of the sewing machine, which caused Elias not to pursue marketing his clothing closure. As a result, Howe missed his chance to become the recognized 'Father of the Zip.'

Forty-four years later, Mr. Whitcomb Judson marketed a 'Clasp Locker' a device similar to the 1851 Howe patent. Judson made an attempt to invent a replacement for the lengthy shoelaces used to fasten men’s and women’s boots. Being first to market gave Whitcomb the credit of being the 'Inventor of the Zipper', However, his 1893 patent did not use the word zipper. The Chicago inventor's 'Clasp Locker' was a complicated hook-and-eye shoe fastener. Despite his attempts, people are not ready to carry a device like Clasp Locker on their clothes. Then, together with businessman Colonel Lewis Walker, Whitcomb launched the Universal Fastener Company to manufacture the new device. The clasp locker had its public debut at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and met with little commercial success.
Swedish-born (who later immigrated to Canada), Gideon Sundback, an electrical engineer, 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. The patent for the 'Separable Fastener' was issued in 1917. Sundback also created the manufacturing machine for the new zipper.

Whitcomb Judson

 

Gideon Sundback

 

Illustration: Whitcomb
Judson's clasp locker 

The original 1917 Sundback patent for the "Separable Fastener"

The popular 'zipper' name came from the B. F. Goodrich Company, when they decided to use Gideon's fastener on a new type of rubber boots or galoshes and renamed the device the zipper. The name zipper came from the ‘zip’ sound it made when open or closed. Boots and tobacco pouches with a zippered closure were the two chief uses of the zipper during its early years. Today being an inseparable part of modern life, zipper is produced approximately around 2000 miles per day in the world.

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