Whitcomb Judson’s Bright Idea (8-29-1893)

Whitcomb Judson was a Chicago inventor.  In 1889 he’d developed a type of streetcar that ran on compressed air.  When that wasn’t commercially successful he turned to the problem of fasteners.  Legend says he was tired of wasting time lacing up the high-top shoes then in fashion.Judson

Judson came up with a hook-and-eye system that was opened and closed by a sliding fastener.  He called his invention the clasp-locker.  Though he first applied for a patent in November 1891, he did not receive formal approval until August 29, 1893—123 years ago today.

Soon afterward Judson successfully exhibited the device at the Columbian Exposition, and later founded the Universal Fastener Company to manufacture it.  In our own time Whitcomb Judson’s clasp-locker is in common use under a different name.  We now call it a zipper.



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