In 1893, 21 million people flocked to Chicago to behold the wonders displayed
at the World's Fair. Among the many wonderful objects displayed, there
was a device called a "clasp-locker." An engineer named Whitcomb
Judson had recently patented this item and intended it to replace the hook
and eye shoelaces so prevalent in the late 19th century. The "clasp-locker"
device resembled two small chains of alternating hook and eye locks. A metal
sliding implement joined the two chains, which then closed the shoe flaps
to which they were attached. Whitcomb Judson's idea was practical but pale
in comparison to the other inventions at the fair. Few people
came to gawk at Judson's invention.
Fifteen years later, another engineer, Gideon Sundback, modified Judson's
idea. He manufactured a smaller, lighter version of the "clasp-locker."
Renamed "hookless fastener," this device could be attached not
only to boots, but also to clothing and purses.
The B. F. Goodrich Company, in 1923, presented to the public a rubber
overboot equipped with a "hookless fastener," only on this new
footwear it was called a "zipper." The story goes that Mr. B.
F. Goodrich himself invented the word zipper in imitation of its sound.
It appears, however, that the onomatopoeic term "zip" had been
lurking in the English language since at least 1850, but the B. F. Goodrich
product made it a household word.
First Patent of the Zipper
Wow, wasn't that exciting. Let's go back
to the Zipper page so we can buy some zippers.