The zipper – patented in 1917

Everyone uses zippers. Every single day. And yet we rarely if ever think about how incredibly amazing these gadgets are. I came across an article in the BBC lately – and was amazed to learn the zipper was only patented in 1917 and not really used commercially until 1923. The name itself was coined by B.F. Goodrich.

As you read the Wikipedia article some things stand out:

  1. Making zippers is fairly complex – only a few companies in the world are capable of this.
  2. The first airtight zippers were made by NASA for spacesuits – imagine going into space with something just zipped up?
  3. YKK, a Japanese company and pretty much the only zipper manufacturer I could name holds 45% of the worldwide market on zippers.

Such a small, innocuous little device, but such an amazing history.

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