Google has paid tribute to Gideon Sundback, the Swedish-American electrical engineer who helped to develop the zipper.
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The idea of a zipper may have been dreamed up 20 years before Sundback began working on it, but it was Sundback’s design and innovation that perfected the fastening device, turning it into the ubiquitous item we know today.
Sundback, who would have turned 132 today, was born in Smaland in Southern Sweden in 1880, but moved to Germany to study engineering, before relocating to Pennsylvania, USA in 1905.
Sundback made several advance on the zipper between 1906 and 1914, working for companies such as the Universal Fastener Company.
But it was his Hookless Number 2 design that provided a strong enough grip for the fastener to be seen as a reliable replacement for the hook-and-eye fasteners then used on women’s boots. It went on to be used throughout the fashion industry; in the flies or trousers, the front of coats and on the plackets of skirts and dresses.
The Hookless Number 2 is essentially the same metal zipper we use today – with interlocking teeth and regular dimples that hold the teeth securely. The dimples mean that single teeth are given very little room to move, effectively stopping the zipper from working itself undone.
Sundback died of a heart ailment in 1954 and was buried at the Greendale cemetery in Meadville, north-western Pennsylvania.
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