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Did you know that zippers were first invented as a way to tie one's shoes? Patent number 504,038, issued to Whitcomb L. Judson of Chicago, Illinois on August 29, 1893 was called a Clasp Locker or Unlocker for Shoes. The strip of interlocking metal teeth, know used for clothes, purses and other types of fabric was an invention of necessity just as most new inventions are. Judson was a man of fairly wide girth and he had difficulty tying his shoes. He displayed the device at the 1893 World's Fair but most people found it too ugly. At that time, the interlocking parts were much farther apart than the zippers we know today. In 1917, another inventor improved on Judson's idea by increasing the number of metal parts per inch. Like most inventions, someone else had actually thought of the zipper first, the inventor of the sewing machine, Elias Howe. Howe had received a patent for a similar enclosure but did not market the device. In fact, many of the most famous inventions we know of today were actually just improvements to earlier models of the same idea. What it takes to become a successful inventor today is much the same as in previous centuries: One has to persevere through beyond the patenting process and keep improving on their latest invention or their name will likely get lost in the history books. Someone else is always waiting in the wings to make a successful invention even better.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|