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Home>History of the zipper

History of the zipper


We have seen many articles written on the history of the zipper. There is even some debate about who actually invented the zipper as we know it today. There had to be some explanation of this history on this website, so we decided on this wonderful article from American Heritage of Invention & Technology magazine. Although it was written and printed in 1994, it is of course true to this day, maybe even more so. Enjoy this wonderful article.

Below are the first few lines of the article with a link to the full text below that.

The History of the Zipper?

By Robert Friedel

It might sound too mundane to be interesting, but in fact, this peculiar little machine clamps its myriad teeth around the most compelling issues of technology, capitalism, and the heroic limits of entrepreneurial endurance

“For the historian there are no banal things,” said the Swiss architectural critic Siegfried Giedion. A historian of technology is supposed to know this, but it helps to be reminded from time to time. My most important reminder came during a course that I taught on invention, in which a student proposed to write her term paper on the history of the zipper. I was skeptical. What kind of story could there be in the history of a simple, ubiquitous device that was such a trivial part of everyday life?

To see the rest of the article from the Summer of 1994, Volume 10, issue 1 of the American Heritage of Invention & Technology Magazine, click here.

As they were developed...


Here are links to some of the original U.S. Patent illustrations that today’s zipper is based upon. They a PDF versions of the actual patents.

US PAT #8540 - IMPROVEMENT IN FASTENINGS FOR GARMENTS - HOWE - 1851 US PAT #8540 - IMPROVEMENT IN FASTENINGS FOR GARMENTS - HOWE - 1851 (135 KB)




US PAT #504037 - SHOE FASTENING - JUDSON - 1893 US PAT #504037 - SHOE FASTENING - JUDSON - 1893 (341 KB)




US PAT #504038 - CLASP LOCKER OR UNLOCKER FOR SHOE - JUDSON - 1893 US PAT #504038 - CLASP LOCKER OR UNLOCKER FOR SHOE - JUDSON - 1893 (301 KB)




US Patent #1060378 - Separable Fastener - Gideon Sundback - 1913 US Patent #1060378 - Separable Fastener - Gideon Sundback - 1913 (274 KB)




US Patent #1219881 - Separable Fastener - Gideon Sundback - 1917 US Patent #1219881 - Separable Fastener - Gideon Sundback - 1917 (410 KB)




All US Patents All US Patents (1472 KB)