This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
The hookless fastener.
Many great innovations simply speed up or eliminate the actions that consume our time. The hookless fastener, more commonly known as the zipper, is one of the classics. The man on the other side of the zipper is Swedish-born Gideon Sundback. In 1913, he came up with something he called the Hookless No. 2. It’s the metal zipper as we know it today—two strips of teeth brought together tightly by a slider. No more tricky buckles or time-consuming hook-and-eye fasteners. Sundback also created the machine to manufacture his new device and set up the Lightning Fastener Company in St. Catharines, Ontario, to do just that. Surprisingly, use of the zipper didn’t strike like lightning. It wasn’t until World War Two that Sundback’s fastener became popular in the design and making of clothes, and a now-familiar sound truly began to be heard around the world. Zip!