Gideon Sundback remembered in Google Doodle

24 Apr 2012

Gideon Sundback, the Swedish-American engineer who invented the zipper, is being revered in an interactive Google Doodle today to mark what would be his 132nd birthday.

Visit the Google homepage today and you’ll be greeted with a giant vertical zip slashing through the Google name, with the Google letters embellished in what looks like thread.

Click on the zipper, and as it opens you’ll be presented with an inner Google page showing search results for Otto Fredrik Gideon Sundback.

Sundback was born in Småland, Sweden, on 24 April 1880, and grew up on a farm.

After he completed his studies in Sweden, he moved to Germany, where he studied at the polytechnic school in Bingen am Rhein. In 1905 he emigrated to the US.

It was in 1906 that Sundback started working at the Universal Fastener Company in New Jersey.

His zipper advancements drew upon the work of other engineering predecessors, such as Elias Howe and Max Wolff.

Sundback was responsible for improving the ‘Judson C-curity Fastener’. Then, in 1914, he developed a version of the device based on interlocking teeth, which was known as the ‘Hookless No. 2’, the forefather of the modern zipper as we know it.

A US patent for the ‘Separable Fastener’ was issued in 1917.

BF Goodrich coined the term zipper in 1923 as the company decided to use the device on a new type of rubber boot.

Sundback also created the manufacturing machine for the new zipper.

He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences in 1951.

As for his personal life, Sundback married Elvira Aronson in 1909.

He died on 21 June 1954 at the age of 74 following a heart condition, and is buried in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic