Fastening Devices

Most of the fastening devices used in clothing today, like the shoelace, the button, and the safely pin, have existed in some form in various cultures for thousands of years. But the zipper was the brainchild of one American inventor, namely Whitcomb Judson of Chicago. At the end of the 19th century, Judson was already a successful inventor, with a dozen patents to his credit for mechanical items such as improvements to motors and railroad braking systems.

He then turned his mind to creation a replacement for the lengthy shoelaces which were then used in both men's and women's boots. On August 29th 1893, he won another patent, for what he called the "clasp-locker". Though the prototype was somewhat clumsy, and frequently jammed, it did work: in fact, Judson and his business associate Lewis Walker had sewn the device into their own boots. Although Judson displayed his clasp-locker at the World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893, the public largely ignored it. The company founded by Judson and Walker, Universal Fastener, despite further refinements, never really succeeded in marketing the device.

The earliest zip fasteners were being used in the apparel industry by 1905, but it was only in 1913, after a Swedish-American engineer, Gideon Sundbach, had remodeled Judson's fastener into a more streamlined and reliable form, that the zipper was a success. The US Army applied zippers to the clothing and gear of the troops of World War ‡T. By the late 1920s, zippers could be found in all kinds of clothing, footwear, and carrying cases; by the mid-1930s, zippers had even been embraced by the fashion industry.

The term "zipper" was coined as onomatopoeia (resembling the sound it makes) by B. F. Goodrich, whose company started marketing galoshes featuring the fastener in 1923. Regrettably, Whitcomb Judson died in 1909, and never heard the term, or saw the success by which his invention would become ubiquitous.


1. The zipper differs from the other three fastening devices mentioned in paragraph 1 in which way?

2. The word prototype in the second paragraph is closest in meaning to

3. What is the author’s main point in the second paragraph?

4. The word it in the second paragraph refers to

5. The word refinements in the second paragraph is closest in meaning to

6. According to the passage, zippers did not really become a success until

7. The word gear in the third paragraph is closest in meaning to

8. According to the passage, by the late 1920s zippers could be found in all of the following industries EXCEPT

9. The word embraced in the third paragraph is closest in meaning to

10. According to the passage, the zipper got its name

11. Which of the following descriptions best describes the author’s last comments about Judson?

12. Which of the following statements can best be inferred from the passage about zippers?