Special Sub-Topic: Zip-a-dee-doo-dah
|In 1851, Elias Howe patented an 'Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure', which he did not subsequently exploit. For what invention is he better known?|
Sewing machine. While Elias Howe was not the first person to come up with an idea for a workable sewing machine, he did develop a model in 1846 that is pretty much the same as the machines still in home use today. It used a needle with an eye at the tip which formed a lock stitch with a thread feed operating below the fabric being passed through. He was forced to defend the patent when Isaac Singer copied it and began marketing machines. Perhaps it was the need to focus his efforts on the sewing machine that diverted his attention from the potential of the zipper.
|At the 1893 World's Fair, Whitcomb Judson revealed his 'Clasp Locker' to an underwhelmed world. What was it used to fasten?|
Shoes. Judson's device was a slightly more complex mechanism than that of Howe, and the chosen application was as a way to close shoes. In conjunction with Lewis Walker, Judson set up the Universal Fastener Company, later to be known as the Automatic Hook and Eye Company, and the Hookless Fastener Company, becoming Talon Zipper before going bankrupt in 1978.
|In 1917, an employee of the Universal Fastener Company received a patent for a device called the Separable Fastener, which we would recognize as the modern zipper. What was his name?|
Gideon Sundback. Gideon Sundback was the chief engineer for the Universal Fastener Company when he modified the Clasp Lock into the modern zipper. His design featured a sliding device that meshes and unmeshes two rows of teeth with which we are familiar. He also increased the number of teeth per inch, providing a more secure fastening than had been the case for previous designs.
|The name zipper was given to the Separable Fastener when it was used by the B. F. Goodrich Company for a new product. What kind of product was the first to be fitted with a zipper?|
Rubber boots. B. F. Goodrich was in the business of making rubber products, and they decided to market a new boot with a zip fastening rather than using buckles, buttons or laces. The name zipper was intended to convey the speed and ease with which the new boots could be fastened compared to other methods.
|The zipper was first widely used for clothing in the 1930s. In which market did it first find popularity?|
Children's clothing. The use of zippers on children's clothing was promoted during the early 1930s as a way to increase independence in youngsters, since they were easier to fasten than earlier devices for little fingers. Of course, pinched fingers replaced the fumbling with buttons, but the marketing plan was successful.
|In the transition to the wider clothing market, zipper manufacturers created a campaign to convince consumers that there was a need for a new fastener. What was the creative name developed for this need?|
Gaposis. The campaign to increase zipper use for children was so successful that manufacturers eyed the adult market. Since adults could fasten all openings in their clothes with previously existing devices, it was necessary to create a perceived shortfall, and someone came up with the idea of 'gaposis' - that embarrassing situation when the fabric doesn't lie smoothly, and concealment of what lies beneath fails. For those who try to wear shirts that aren't really quite as large as they should be, this exposure that can be created with buttons is still in effect. Of course, buying clothes that fit properly removes the problem, but these guys had zippers to sell!
|The first marketing of zippers for clothing focused on the ease of removing clothing and replacing it rapidly. (And they say sex doesn't sell.) Which of these was an advertising target?|
Both of these. Men's trousers were the first to succumb, when French fashion designers went wild over the new American device in 1937. The marketing campaign known as 'the battle of the fly' (old-fashioned buttons versus new-fangled zippers) was won by the zipper, whose virtues were touted as ease of opening and closing, and, according to an article in "Esquire", its ability to help men avoid 'the possibility of unintentional and embarrassing disarray'. They didn't seem to think of the possibility of forgetting to zip!
|Airtight and watertight zippers used for space suits and hazmat suits use a mechanism similar to the closure of a plastic ziploc bag.|
False. While the pressure mechanism that is used to seal plastic bags can be used for a watertight closure, it is not strong enough to be safely used in situations where having it burst open under pressure could be critical. Some cheaper diving suits may use them, but not the space suits and hazmat people. Their suits are usually closed with zippers whose teeth are wrapped in plastic which provides a second layer of sealing. These zippers tend to be quite stiff, and must be placed so that they are not subject to extensive stretching or flexing in use.
|The world's largest zipper manufacturer at the start of the 21st century was a Japanese company. What was their name?|
YKK. Next time you use a zipper, look at the slide and see if it says YKK. It probably does! The company changed its name in 1994 from Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha to the shorter YKK, which had been its logo since it was founded in 1934. Although corporate headquarters are in Japan, its largest factory is in Macon, Georgia (USA, not Europe); the factory makes all parts of the zipper, starting at the beginning with the metal for the teeth and slide, and the fibres that are woven into the fabric part of the zipper.
|Which of these more recent innovations in fastening devices has been used to replace zippers in some applications?|
Velcro. Zippers have replaced buckles, buttons and laces in many applications for which they were once used. Velcro, however, is a newer development, consisting of two different materials which interlock when pressed together. Velcro is actually a brand name for what should be called a hook and loop fastener, but it is widely used for all brands of these fasteners. Invented in the 1950s by Georges de Mestral, velcro fasteneres are quick and easy to use, and don't pinch your fingers when mishandled.
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