Google Doodle: Gideon Sundback, inventor of the zip

Brian Turner

April 24, 2012

The common zipper may seem ubiquitous to us now, but it’s less than 100 years old since Gideon Sundback invented it - and today Google are celebrating the birth of the man with a full page interactive animation.

Of a zip across the entire middle of the Google homepage.

It’s one of Google’s rare full page animations, right up there with “Do a barrel roll” (go on, type that into Google and see what happens), with the animation finishing on a search for the zipper’s designer, Gideon Sundback.

Gideon Sundback (April 24, 1880 – June 21, 1954) was a Swedish-American electrical engineer, who created the “zipper” in 1913, and had a patent awarded for a “separable fastener” awarded in 1917.

Gideon Sundback also created the manufacturing machine for the new device. The “S-L” or “scrapless” machine took a special Y-shaped wire and cut scoops from it, then punched the scoop dimple and nib, and clamped each scoop on a cloth tape to produce a continuous zipper chain. Within the first year of operation, Sundback’s machinery was producing a few hundred feet of fastener per day.

In the 1930s, a sales campaign began for children’s clothing featuring zippers. The campaign praised zippers for promoting self-reliance in young children by making it possible for them to dress in self-help clothing.

The most recent innovation in the zipper’s design was the introduction of models that could open on both ends, as on jackets.

Today the zipper is by far the most widespread fastener, and is found on clothing, luggage, leather goods, and various other objects.

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