When disassembling the cabinet, I noticed that there is a marking on the zipper of the Chinese jeans: three mysterious YKK symbols . For the sake of curiosity, I checked the metal “tongue” on a new bag from Italy and saw the same letters. Being interested in the question, I postponed the cleaning and decided to conduct my own investigation.
Who invented lightning
What is common between buying in the market and in a boutique in Italy? At first glance, nothing. There was only one similar sign between my things - three mysterious letters on the clasp, so is it in it? The reasoning turned out to be true, and I quickly attacked the trail.
It turns out, once upon a time, in 1851, the first patent for "automatic continuous fastener for clothes" was obtained. A prototype of modern lightning was invented by an American named Elias Howe . But he did not begin to deal with this product, taking up other affairs, and it almost sunk into oblivion.
The idea was resuscitated in 1853, and another American inventor, Whitcomb Judson , had a hand in it . The impetus was the request for help from a close friend with a sore back. It was very difficult for him to tie shoelaces. Judson took his words to heart and constructed a mechanism consisting of loops and hooks staggered on two ribbons. The tapes were fastened together with a special key in the form of a tongue. The product turned out to be unreliable and uncomfortable, with complex instructions for two sheets. Production turned out to be economically unprofitable, and the final cost of the product exceeded the price of an ordinary pair of trousers.
This did not prevent Whitcomb L. Judson from obtaining a patent for the invention in 1890.
Then blind chance and love come into play . Gideon Sundback, a young Swedish engineer, meets the daughter of one of Whitcomb L. Judson’s managers and loses his head. It was the lover's father who could not establish production and trade in clasps. It is said that at that moment the largest lot sold was a maximum of 20 pieces.
In the biography, it is noted that he worked for Westinghouse Electric, where even the famous Nikola Tesla was a consultant! But I didn’t find any mention of their meeting, but it’s a pity that history could have received another interesting turn.
A talented engineer creates a model with a lock in the form of a slider and patents it, but success never comes. In 1917, Sundbek finally presents the zipper that we now see on trousers, boots and bags.
And where does the word zipper come from?
Sundbek's zippers began to gradually come into use, and in 1923, the owner of a shoe company named Bertram Rock purchased a large batch. He had a brilliant idea to create a line of comfortable and fashionable galoshes with a clasp. When it came to the name of the novelty, Rock listened to the sound, and by analogy the name Zipper Boots appeared. History has been forgotten, and the slang name “zipper” has taken root!
Japanese resourcefulness and meticulousness
At the end of the 20s of the last century, the resourceful Japanese Tadao Yoshida enters the arena . In a string of inventors, he took a leading position, seizing power in this niche of the world market. It was he who began to scrupulously isolate all the flaws of the clasp. At that time, they often broke down, stuck, ceasing to cope with their function. The Japanese found the perfect solution and maximally improved the design.
Tadao changed the shape of the teeth, introduced brass to the composition and invented special paints for ribbons. He founded the Yoshida Company Limited factory. Success came out phenomenal! True Japanese quality has attracted the attention of all the largest manufacturers of shoes and clothing. And then comes the moment when the abbreviated name "YKK" appears almost everywhere.
Today, Yoshida Company Limited in English or Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha (roughly pronounced in Japanese) is a recognized leader in releasing more than half of the lightning in the world.
Japanese have won the championship since 1934, and they are not going to give it to anyone! It is estimated that the production capacities are enough to produce 7, 000, 000 units in one day. Branches of production are scattered in different countries, they produce other types of fasteners, for example, the famous "Velcro".
The abbreviation YKK has rightfully conquered the world. This is a symbol of the success and genius of engineering.