Gideon Sundback’s Zippers Zip

by Sherry Riter in Fun Facts

womens levis blue jeans zipper

Zippers are one of those little things we take for granted until we have a stuck zipper that we tug and pull until we have a broken zipper.

History Of The Zipper

Obviously the zipper was an important invention. So who exactly invented this little thing that we encounter all day long? His name was Otto Fredrik Gideon Sundback and he was born on April 24, 1880 in Sweden. Sundback took his electrical engineer exam in 1903 and shortly thereafter, in 1905, he emigrated to the United States.

In 1906, Sunback was hired at the Universal Fastener Company in Hoboken, New Jersey. From 1906 to 1914, he worked on fasteners which eventually became zippers. In 1917, Gideon Sunback was issued a patent (U.S. Patent 1,219,881) for the “Separable Fastener.”

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Sundback zipper 1917 patent Sundback zipper 1917 patent 2 Sundback zipper 1917 patent 3 Sundback zipper 1917 patent 4 Sundback zipper 1917 patent 5

Sundback died of a heart condition on June 21, 1954 (Quick! Do the math! He was 74 years old.), and is buried in Meadville, Pennsylvania at the Greendale cemetery.

What Is A Zipper

There are nylon zippers, metal zippers, plastic zippers and all of them can be invisible zippers if they are put into the material a certain way. A zipper is two strips of fabric tape that have shaped teeth made of nylon, metal or plastic. These teeth are brought together by a slider that meshes the teeth from each fabric tape together. The zipper teeth fit together snugly just like when you lace your fingers together and close your hands. When you move the slider up and down the rows of teeth quickly, it makes a zipping sound. So the zipper got it’s name from the sound it makes…zzzzziiiippppp! That means zipper is an onomatopoeia!

The main function of a zipper is to hold two sides of something together, but not permanently. Zippers are also used as jewelry and in craft items like flowers. The zipper’s function in those instances are for visual design instead of holding something together.

pencil case sturdy black zipper

Where Are Zippers Used?

If you counted all the zippers in your home, I think the number you found would be a huge surprise. So what kinds of things have zippers? Here are a few places you might find a zipper:

  • Jeans zipper
  • Zippered binders
  • Sweater with zipper
  • Zippered hooded sweatshirts
  • Zipper pouch bag
  • Jacket zipper
  • Zippered boots
  • Zippered tote bags
  • Side zipper pants
  • Front zipper pants
  • Back zipper pants
  • Zippered bookbags
  • Surf board bags
  • Backpack zippers
  • Zipper skirts
  • Handbag zippers
  • Zippered shirts
  • Robe with zipper
  • Zipper clutch
  • Sweatshirt with zipper
  • Luggage zippers
  • Zippered pillow covers
  • Coat zippers
  • Zippered cushion covers
  • Pillow cover zipper
  • Zipper earrings
  • Jean zippers
  • Zippered coin purse
  • Leather jacket zippers
  • Zippered pencil pouch
  • Sleeping bag zippers
  • Dress zippers
  • Purse zipper
  • Zipper tongue piercing
  • Front zipper wetsuit
  • Zippered duvet covers
  • Tent zippers
  • Zippered checkbook covers
  • Back zipper boots
  • Side zipper boots
  • Front zipper boots
  • Tarp zipper
  • Back zipper pajamas
  • Zippered hoodie
  • Zippered book covers
  • Bank zipper bags
  • Zippered beach bag
  • Vacuum zipper bags
  • Mens zippered cardigan
  • Zippered crib sheets

Are you surprised by the list? Could you identify with many if not all of the zipper uses?

Well, I’m going to zip my lip now and let you make a comment below. That’s a hint. LOL

vera bradley black backpack zipper

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gloria Faye Brown Bates August 11, 2012 at 6:37 am

I have ALOT of zippers in my world. :))) Thank-goodness for them or we’d all be in trouble!


2 The Redhead Riter August 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I have lots of zippers in my life too! It didn’t take me but a few seconds to find a few things to take pictures of for the post. I LOVE zippers!


3 Susanne August 11, 2012 at 7:52 am

Hmmm…aside from the fact that I haven’t worn a pair of levis in many years and when I did they were always men’s cut and really didn’t fit that well, I can only say, you have illustrated perfectly how we take for granted some of the most useful and used “things” in our lives. They are just “there”. Actually, we don’t really even notice them until they break and then we’re in big trouble, ie: the zipper on our levis. These “things” are present on all levels and in every aspect of our lives. They could be inanimate objects with actual documentation, but the list doesn’t end there. People and even emotions may qualify as “things” to be assessed. Maybe we’ll take the time to reflect for a moment or make a list. Perhaps we’ll sing their praises or just appreciate the “overlooked” a bit more every day. At the moment, I bow to the inventor of air conditioning for obvious reasons and to the mind(s) that created the computer because without them I wouldn’t have the chance to speak with you. Have a great weekend!

Have a great weekend


4 The Redhead Riter August 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm

My mom never wears jeans either, but I love jeans almost as much as I love pajamas!!!! LOL

Yes, the simplest things in life often get overlooked especially people who are “always” there for us when we need them. 😀

I too am very thankful for having you as my friend, Susanne, and look forward to the day we will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face. Have a lovely day! {{{hugsss}}}


5 Susanne August 12, 2012 at 7:44 am

May I just clarify one little thing?. It’s not that I don’t wear jeans, in fact I wear them often. It’s just that they’re not Levis. Actually jeans are alot like our lives. They reflect the various phases. Levis…Calvins, many in between and now this phase contains Lands End and Long Tall Sally. Oh then there are the capris, the cropped pants more evolution. Should they be straight leg, boot leg? One thing is for sure, the day they have elastic sewn into the band is the I’ll stop right here. Enough wisdom for one day…lol.

Have a great Sunday..hugs!


6 The Redhead Riter August 12, 2012 at 11:37 am

LOL Alrighty then! Well, my mom NEVER wears jeans, elastic or not. 😀


7 Skip_D August 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Otto Fredrik Gideon Sundback was a genius! We take the zipper totally for granted, but just think how precisely it has to bring those tiny opposing teeth together for them to hold so strongly. My father was an inventor, so I look at products differently than most people do, & I’ve often thought what an amazing stroke of design genius is a zipper… the sort of thing that we can’t imagine being without, but not one of those things that are so simple that you say “why didn’t *I* think of that??? It’s real creativity at work. Thanks for bringing us its history, & making me again marvel at Sundack’s great achievement!


8 The Redhead Riter August 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I know Skip! Zippers are such a great idea. As simple as they appear, there is quite a bit of technology making them work so perfectly. Of course, that technology is never appreciated enough until it is the middle of winter, the wind is blowing and the zipper sticks halfway up the jacket. THAT happened to me last winter, so guess who will be getting a new coat this winter?


9 Skip_D August 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm

ummmmmmmm… lemme think…? *scratching head* hmmmmmmmm… Sherry??? 🙂


10 The Redhead Riter August 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm

You’re just too smart! How DID you guess?! LOL


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