a tailor

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to help with the tedious fastening of boots whitcomb judson of Chicago invented a slider in 1893 that ran over a row of boot hooks drawing them together. his invention, which he called a "clasp locker" was clunky and judson didnt live long enough to see it improved upon and named the zipper.


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Don't you just love the history of our clothing. Here's the rest of the story from The Encyclopedia of Men's Clothes:

Zipper History:

In 1893 Whitcomb Judson of Chicago (who also invented the 'Pneumatic Street Railway') marketed a 'Clasp Locker' a complicated hook-and-eye shoe fastener. The clasp locker was an assemblage of hooks and eyes that Judson thought would save people time and sore backs fastening their shoes with one hand. Together with businessman Colonel Lewis Walker, Whitcomb launched the Universal Fastener Company to manufacture the new device.

Swedish immigrant and electrical engineer, Gideon Sundback 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, by December of 1913, he came up with the modern zipper.

Sundback increased the number of fastening elements from four per inch to ten or eleven, had two facing-rows of teeth that pulled into asingle piece by the slider, and increased the opening for the teeth guided by the slider. The patent for the 'Separable Fastener' was issued in 1917. Sundback also created the manufacturing machine for the new zipper. The 'S-L' or scrapless machine took a special Y-shaped wire and cut scoops from it, then punched the scoop dimple and nib, and clamped each scoop on a cloth tape to produce a continuous zipper chain. Within the first year of operation, Sundback's zipper-making machinery was producing a few hundred feet of fastener per day.

The popular 'zipper' name came from B. F. Goodrich Company president Bertram G. Wrok, when they decided to use Gideon's fastener on his “Mystic Boot”, which were rubber boots or galoshes, and called it the Zipper Boot.
Boots and tobacco pouches with a zippered closure were the two chief uses of the zipper during its early years. It took twenty more years to convince the fashion industry to seriously promote the novel closure on garments.

In the 1930’s, a sales campaign began for children's clothing featuring zippers. The campaign praised zippers for promoting self-reliance in young children by making it possible for them to dress in self-help clothing.

Not until 1934 when Lord Louis Mountbaten persuaded the Prince of Wales and George, Duke of York to give up their buttons for zipper flies. Tailors who disdained zipper flies as vulgar created a fold of cloth to conceal the zipper.

YKK. In 1934, Yoshida Kogyo Kabushililaisha was founded. Sixty years later they changed their name to YKK Co. The privately owned firm, headquartered in Japan, now is made up of 80 companies at 206 facilities in 52 countries.
The zipper beat the button in the 1937 in the "Battle of the Fly," when French fashion designers raved over zippers in men's trousers. Esquire magazine declared the zipper the "Newest Tailoring Idea for Men" and among the zippered fly's many virtues was that it would exclude "The Possibility of Unintentional and Embarrassing Disarray." Obviously, the new zippered trouser owners had not yet discovered the experience of forgetting to zip-up.

The next big boost for the zipper came when zippers could open on both ends, as on jackets. Today the zipper is everywhere, in clothing, luggage and leather goods and countless other objects. Thousands of zipper miles produced daily, meet the needs of consumers, thanks to the early efforts of the many famous zipper inventors.


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United States
Interesting. And the clearest that I have read about zipper history. I knew a Swede played a major role in the zipper developement.
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