Inventor Celebrated by World’s Largest Search Engine
On April 24, Google celebrated the birthday of Gideon Sundback, considered the genius behind the zippers most people use today. The search engine is commemorating the occasion with a large, interactive zipper in place of its usual logo.
In 1917 Sundback patented the "Separable Fastener".
It is important to note that Sundback did NOT invent the zipper. That honor goes to, first, Elias Howe (who patented the "Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure") and then Whitcomb Judson who created the "Clasp Locker", the precursor to the device we use today.
However, neither device gained popularity. And that is the main reason why Sundback is getting all this attention. His improvements to the zipper made it both easy to use AND marketable. He didn’t invent the thing…but he did make is so darned easy to use as to be irresistible to the buying public.
So, what did he do to popularize the zipper?
First, he increased the number of teeth per square inch. Next, he "scoop-dimbled" the teeth, strengthening the zipper. And finally he created a slider to open and close the interlocking mechanism, creating the type of zipper most of us are familiar with today.
There is a great lesson here. As an inventor you do not have to start out from scratch. If you simply improve an existing device to the point where it is "idiot-proof" and easy, then you will be the one who goes down in history.
Click on the video below to see the Google tribute in action.