Who Invented It: Gideon Sundback
Year Introduced: 1913
Sewing machine inventor Elias Howe received a patent for the zipper's precursor in 1851: an "Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure." This device however, wasn't really like the zippers we know of today. It was Whitcomb Judson's "Clasp Locker" that set the precedent for the modern zipper. His Universal Fastener Company debuted at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, but it wasn't really successful. It wasn't until 1911 when Gideon Sundback, now head designer of what was now called Talon, Inc., devoted himself to getting the fastener right, and by December 1913 had invented the modern "zipper," a term that came to fruition years later, in 1923. The B.F. Goodrich Company used Sundback's fastener on a pair of rubber boots and called it a "zipper," and the name stuck—much like the invention is prone to, sometimes.