April 29 is Zipper Day. Believe it or not, zippers actually have an interesting history. The first invention similar to a modern zipper was patented by Elias Howe (sewing machine inventor) in 1851. He did nothing with it, however. Forty years later, the man often given credit as the inventor of the zipper, Whitcomb L. Judson, patented something he called a clasp locket. Gideon Sundback, a Swedish American electrical engineer, improved on it through the early 1900’s and the name zipper was bestowed by the B. F. Goodrich company in 1923 when they used the invention as a closer for rubber boots. It is meant to be onomatopoeia because of the sound a zipper makes when it closes (zip!).

As I looked up this information, I got to thinking about other inventions which have changed our lives. You may have heard the expression, “the best thing since sliced bread.” Did you know the bread slicing machine was invented in 1928 by Otto Fredrick Rohwoedder? Now you do.

There is a delightful Web page [http://www.edinformatics.com/inventions_inventors/] which gives a very long list of useful inventions. It’s fun to look at. They are listed alphabetically, so you find things like cash register, cat litter, and catalog, mail order following each other.

Here are a few I picked out. These are in date order.

  • The wheel, ca 3500 BCE by the Sumerians, possibly
  • Nails (for building), 3300 BCE, by the Sumerians
  • Glass, 2500 BCE, by the Egyptians
  • Soap, 600 BCE by the Phoenicians
  • Compass for navigation, 12th century by the Chinese
  • Printing press, (that is, movable type), 1450 by Johannes Gutenberg
  • Rubber band, 1845 by Stephen Perry
  • Safety pin, 1849 by Walter Hunt
  • Toilet tissue, 1857 by Joseph Gayetty
  • Stapler, 1866 by George W. McGill
  • Telephone, 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell
  • Light bulb, 1879 by Thomas A. Edison
  • Paper clip, 1899 by Johan Vaaler
  • Scotch tape, 1930 by Richard Drew
  • Post-it notes, 1970s by Arthur Fry

Think about what your life would be like without these, or what is probably the greatest invention of modern times, the World Wide Web.


Here are a list of quotations about inventors and inventions.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.–Thomas A. Edison

I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention. Invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness – to save oneself trouble.–Agatha Christie (An Autobiography)

The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.–Seymour Papert

Accident is the name of the greatest of all inventors.–Mark Twain

I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill.–Thomas A. Edison

I invented nothing new. I simply combined the inventions of others into a car. Had I worked fifty or ten or even five years before, I would have failed.–Henry Ford

I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.–Nikola Tesla

Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.–Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

An amazing invention – but who would ever want to use one?–Rutherford B. Hayes, referring to Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and, therefore, the foundation of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.–J. K. Rowling

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list at http://www.quotelady.com.

One thought on “Zipper Day

  1. Thanks for another great post. Where else could anybody get that kind of info in such an ideal way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such information.


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