How do you honor a man responsible for helping to develop the zipper? If you’re Google, you design your homepage with a giant interactive zipper in the middle. The latest Google Doodle honors engineer Gideon Sundback, born on this date in 1880.
Visit Google’s home page today and you’ll see this:
Google’s letters appear to be stitched on, as if the home page has become a giant virtual white sweatshirt. From there, you can click and hold to pull down on the zipper if you want a glimpse of Google’s search results and to see Google’s logo become askew.
Or you can just click once on the zipper and be taken directly to search results to discover more about Sundback.
So why would the Swedish-born Sundback be honored by Google? Perhaps Google is recognizing him because he improved on an idea, much in the way Google CEO Larry Page had a new vision to improve search ranking, where links essentially became “votes”, which was the basis for PageRank and has lead the search giant to global domination in nearly every country in which it operates.
The zipper can be traced back to the 1850s. However, prior to Sundback, the designs of metal fasteners with interlocking teeth were deeply flawed. But through his work he ended up designing something that is ubiquitous in modern life.
What was the secret? Increasing the number of fastening elements per inch, as well as the design of the teeth for optimal separable zipping and locking. He also created a machine that helped produce his new creation.
While Sundback created the product, B.F. Goodrich was first to eventually coin the name “zipper”, when the product appeared on its boots for the first time in the 1920s. Sundback died in 1954 and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame posthumously in 2006.
So happy birthday, Gideon Sundback. And thanks for helping to keep all of our pants where they belong for decades!