How Did the Zipper Come to Be?

We rarely put much thought into some of the most amazing things in the world around us. Small details that drive our everyday life go all but unnoticed unless you actually stop and think about how they came to be, and what implications they have on your life. The zipper is probably one of the best examples of that – it’s everywhere around us, and yet it goes completely ignored by most people that rely on it on a daily basis. How did the first zippers appear anyway?

Initial Concepts

Elias Howe is widely credited with laying the foundation for the modern zipper design, patenting a device that would automatically close pieces of clothing. However, Howe did not seem interested in pursuing his idea beyond the initial patent registration, which some have explained with the success of the sewing machine, another invention of his. In any case, while Howe laid down the foundations for the modern zipper design, he did not develop it to the point where it was used by anyone.

An Important Breakthrough

Gideon Sundback from Sweden was the one to design the modern zipper and popularized the style we all know and love now. When Sundback’s wife passed away in 1911, he became obsessed with his work, eventually producing what became the current zipper two years later. The design was perfected and improved significantly after that, but Sundback was responsible for laying the most important foundations of the modern zipper.


It wasn’t until the B. F. Goodrich Company got involved in the market that the actual name “zipper” appeared as well. Various complicated mechanism-related names were used until then, and many people were not even sure what to call the small devices in the first place. In any case, the device continued to rise in prominence over the next years, eventually becoming a staple of clothing, both for children and adults alike.

Today, the zipper is everywhere around us. It’s not just a fashion accessory either – some important pieces of functional clothing would not be possible without this tiny gadget. And it’s important to pay attention to where things like that are coming from. Because all too often, we take them for granted in our lives, and we don’t realize how difficult it can actually be to come up with something so simple, yet so important. Few would suspect that it took so many years and iterations for the zipper’s design to reach its current state. For more information, visit ZipperShipper.

Peter is a freelance writer with more than eight years of experience covering topics in politics. He was one of the guys that were here when the started.