Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty (Reprint)

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9780393313659: Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty (Reprint)

The story of the zipper is the triumph of an ingenious novelty over the practical world.

It is almost impossible to imagine modern life without this device; yet for the first thirty years or so, from its patent in the late nineteenth century, it represented no real advantage over traditional fasteners like the hook-and-eye or the old-fashioned button. The zipper was mechanically awkward, liable to rust, liable to fail (i.e., snag or burst open), and so expensive that it doubled the retail price of a skirt or a pair of pants. But from the beginning the zipper had an allure, a mystery, a kind of sex appeal that would be echoed in songs, poems, and popular novels.

Robert Friedel has written a fascinating history―full of strange twists, paradoxes, and interesting characters―of this signature gadget of the twentieth century. Inventor Whitcomb Judson (whose efforts lay mostly in patenting a doomed undertaking known as the Pneumatic Streetcar) gave the zipper life; businessman Colonel Lewis Walker had the capital and the faith to back it for forty years; and cultural icons such as Marlon Brando, Erica Jong, and the Rolling Stones helped to turn it into a symbol for sexuality and style.

Not just the story of a distinctive technology, Zipper is an entertaining, informative examination of how new things become part of our daily lives, shaping how we think and act.

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About the Author:

Robert Friedel is a professor of the history of technology and science at the University of Maryland, College Park. He lives in Washington, D.C.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Last year marked the centenary of the zipper, or at least of the date on which the US Government granted Whitcomb L. Judson two basic patents for this exemplary bit of Yankee ingenuity. In honor of the occasion, Friedel (History/Univ. of Maryland) has stitched together an uncommonly engaging account of how a technological curiosity became a ubiquitous, all-purpose fastener that now touches many, if not most, lives. The zipper traveled a long road from drawing board to marketplace and yielded its inventor precious few rewards. At the outset, in fact, it was a solution in search of a problem. Though sustained by the lonely passion of Lewis Walker, founder of the Hookless Fastener Co. (HFC), the zipper did not become a commercial success until the mid-1930s, when clothiers followed the lead of high-fashion designers like Schiaparelli and began incorporating slide fasteners in popularly priced apparel. Nor did the zipper make a name for itself; the word was coined (and trademarked) in 1925 by B.F. Goodrich for a short-lived line of galoshes. Engineering setbacks and price resistance apart, the author argues, the zipper has never ranked among life's basic necessities. Buttons, clasps, laces, and other contrivances, he points out, can still handle virtually any of its applications. Even so, Friedel recounts, the two-track closure has become a near universal artifact--and more. By way of example, he cites the zipper's centerpiece role in urban legend and modern literature, most notably, perhaps, Erica Jong's riffs on the pleasures of ``the zipless fuck.'' In the meantime, Talon Inc. (HFC's corporate name since 1937) twice lost its independence after WW II, most recently to Coats Viyella plc, a British multinational. The only evidence that the firm was once an economic mainstay of Meadville, Pa., lies in the local radio station's call letters--WZPR. A nicely calculated blend of cultural and business perspectives. (Photos--not seen) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.It is almost impossible to imagine modern life without this device; yet for the first thirty years or so, from its patent in the late nineteenth century, it represented no real advantage over traditional fasteners like the hook-and-eye or the old-fashioned button. The zipper was mechanically awkward, liable to rust, liable to fail (i.e., snag or burst open), and so expensive that it doubled the retail price of a skirt or a pair of pants. But from the beginning the zipper had an allure, a mystery, a kind of sex appeal that would be echoed in songs, poems, and popular novels. Robert Friedel has written a fascinating history-full of strange twists, paradoxes, and interesting characters-of this signature gadget of the twentieth century. Inventor Whitcomb Judson (whose efforts lay mostly in patenting a doomed undertaking known as the Pneumatic Streetcar) gave the zipper life; businessman Colonel Lewis Walker had the capital and the faith to back it for forty years; and cultural icons such as Marlon Brando, Erica Jong, and the Rolling Stones helped to turn it into a symbol for sexuality and style. Not just the story of a distinctive technology, Zipper is an entertaining, informative examination of how new things become part of our daily lives, shaping how we think and act. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780393313659

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. It is almost impossible to imagine modern life without this device; yet for the first thirty years or so, from its patent in the late nineteenth century, it represented no real advantage over traditional fasteners like the hook-and-eye or the old-fashioned button. The zipper was mechanically awkward, liable to rust, liable to fail (i.e., snag or burst open), and so expensive that it doubled the retail price of a skirt or a pair of pants. But from the beginning the zipper had an allure, a mystery, a kind of sex appeal that would be echoed in songs, poems, and popular novels. Robert Friedel has written a fascinating history-full of strange twists, paradoxes, and interesting characters-of this signature gadget of the twentieth century. Inventor Whitcomb Judson (whose efforts lay mostly in patenting a doomed undertaking known as the Pneumatic Streetcar) gave the zipper life; businessman Colonel Lewis Walker had the capital and the faith to back it for forty years; and cultural icons such as Marlon Brando, Erica Jong, and the Rolling Stones helped to turn it into a symbol for sexuality and style. Not just the story of a distinctive technology, Zipper is an entertaining, informative examination of how new things become part of our daily lives, shaping how we think and act. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780393313659

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Book Description W. W. Norton & Company. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 304 pages. Dimensions: 8.2in. x 5.5in. x 0.9in.The story of the zipper is the triumph of an ingenious novelty over the practical world. It is almost impossible to imagine modern life without this device; yet for the first thirty years or so, from its patent in the late nineteenth century, it represented no real advantage over traditional fasteners like the hook-and-eye or the old-fashioned button. The zipper was mechanically awkward, liable to rust, liable to fail (i. e. , snag or burst open), and so expensive that it doubled the retail price of a skirt or a pair of pants. But from the beginning the zipper had an allure, a mystery, a kind of sex appeal that would be echoed in songs, poems, and popular novels. Robert Friedel has written a fascinating historyfull of strange twists, paradoxes, and interesting charactersof this signature gadget of the twentieth century. Inventor Whitcomb Judson (whose efforts lay mostly in patenting a doomed undertaking known as the Pneumatic Streetcar) gave the zipper life; businessman Colonel Lewis Walker had the capital and the faith to back it for forty years; and cultural icons such as Marlon Brando, Erica Jong, and the Rolling Stones helped to turn it into a symbol for sexuality and style. Not just the story of a distinctive technology, Zipper is an entertaining, informative examination of how new things become part of our daily lives, shaping how we think and act. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780393313659

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