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How the Gideon Sundback zipper works


Soumyadip Choudhury,IBNLive.com
Apr 24, 2012 at 05:02pm IST

New Delhi: Gideon Sundback invented the zip, a product that has been holding together much of the parts of our lives for about a century now. And Google has paid a tribute to the man with a an unzippable doodle on this 132nd birthday.

Google Gideon Sundback's 132nd birthday doodle gives the appearance of a jacket front that has the Google logo embroidered on it and a zip runs through the middle of the Google logo, separating the second 'o'. To get to know what the doodle is all about users can either click on the logo or better, unzip to reveal what lies within.

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We all use zips, but few may have pondered about how they actually work. Sundback's design, that he finalised in 1913, had a zipper with interlocking oval scoops (earlier designs made use of hooks) that could be easily interlocked by moving a slider. The patent application for the new invention was filed in 1914 and issued in 1917.

How the Gideon Sundback zipper works

Excerpts from Gideon Sundback's patent for the 'separable fastener' detailing how his invention actually works. (United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Excerpts from Gideon Sundback's patent for the 'separable fastener' detailing how his invention actually works:

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This invention relates to separable fasteners, and has particular reference to that type of fastener for garments and other purposes, where two flexible stringers are locked and unlocked by a sliding cam device mounted on both members, the locking being effected by an movement in one direction and unlocking by an opposite movement.

The objects of the present invention are to decrease the weight and bulk, to increase the flexibility and security of locking, and to provide one form of locking member for both stringers, so constructed and arranged that when properly positioned relatively to each other on the stringers they lock and unlock upon proper movement of the cam sliding device.

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A further object of the invention is to simplify the cam sliding device, which is possible owing to the reduction of locking members to one form for both stringers, instead of the different forms heretofore employed on the respective stringers.

According to the present invention, the stringers are alike, as in some prior types of this fastener, preferably consisting as herein shown of a fabric tape provided with a beaded or corded edge, upon which the locking members, are clamped.

The locking members are all alike, and therefore interchangeable, and in general form consist of contractible jaw portions which are clamped upon the tape and projecting locking portions of elongated cup shape, so that the outside of one member nests within the recess of an adjoining member when in locked relation.

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