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Google honors Gideon Sundback: Father of the zipper (+video)

Gideon Sundback is certainly the inventor of the modern 'zipper.' Except Sundback didn't invent the name.

By Staff / April 24, 2012

Today's Google Doodle, brought to you by the inventor of the Zipper, Gideon Sundback. Go ahead, pull the zipper.

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Google's Doodle pays homage to Swedish electrical engineer turned "zipper" inventor Gideon Sundback.

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Except, Sundback didn't invent the zipper. He invented the "Hookless No. 1" in 1914.

And as radically brilliant and enduring as his design may be, it wasn't until the 1920s, when B.F. Goodrich Company of Akron, Ohio bought a bunch of "Hookless No. 2s" did the "zipper" make it's debut.

Goodrich was making new rubber galoshes under the name the "Mystik Boot" and its marketing department wanted to add a little "zip" to its newfangled fastener. In 1923, Goodrich trademarked the name "Zipper Boot."

Not to be outdone, the manufacturer, the Hookless Fastener Company of Meadville, Penn.,  adopted the name "Talon" for the fastener it was selling B.F. Goodrich. By 1930 – 16 years after Sundback invented Hookless No. 1 – the company was producing 30 million "Talon" fasteners for B.F. Goodrich boots. But the name that stuck – and became a generic term – was the one that Goodrich, the bootmaker, promoted.

According to some sources, the zipper was mostly a novelty item initially. At first, it was mostly used on boots and tobacco pouches. But in the 1930's, a children's clothing line adopted the zipper as a way to promote self-reliance among tykes. By the late 1930s, French fashion designers were taking note of the wonders of the zipper. In 1937, the "Battle of the Fly" was held. The zipper beat out buttons. And Esquire magazine concluded that the zipper was the "Newest Tailoring Idea for Men." In trousers, for example, it noted that a zipper would exclude "The Possibility of Unintentional and Embarrassing Disarray."

Hmmm. Well, like all man-run devices, operator error can still be a source of "embarrassing disarray."

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