A click and drag of the zipper that split Google’s homepage on April 24 revealed a page of search results about Gideon Sundback, the electrical engineer who perfected the zipper, in honor of his 132nd birthday. After immigrating to the United States, the Swedish native rose to head designer of Judson’s Universal Fastener Company, where he improved upon the existing zipper in 1913. Sundback’s refinements to the closure — for which he received a “separable fastener” patent in 1917 — included tripling the number of teeth per square inch, inventing the slider that opened and closed it and increasing its strength by scoop-dimpling the teeth. Sundback also created the device that manufactured the zipper, called the S-L machine (for “scrapless”). During the 1930s, Sundback’s easy-to-use zipper became a mother’s lifesaver as children across the country started dressing themselves; when French designers began implementing it in mens’ trousers, the zipper overtook the button as the fashion world’s fastener of choice.
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