February 11th National Inventors Day

Ronald Reagan made February 11th the National Inventors Day in honor of Thomas Alva Edison whose birthday just happened to be February 11th, 1847. That was back in 1983, long after Edison had registered over 1,000 patents for his inventions.

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You could say it was like a light bulb went off in his head. But that’s the life of an inventor. Some inventors regret things they have made, like Pulitzer and even Einstein. It seems, for better or for worse, that most inventions come either during war or right before it. Sometimes because of dreams thought up during war. That’s normally because people are often busy enjoying life when they can.

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And oddly, most inventions are fought against until people realize that they can make life better. Change never comes easy to man and inventions are all about change. Some inventions are life changing, others… not so much so. After all, even the Pet Rock was an invention.

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You might be surprised at who inventors are. Yes, most of them are very bright and they are highly educated. Some are our neighbors who just happened to have the right idea at the right time.

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How to celebrate – Invent something! Read about the famous inventors who have made the quality of life better for us all. Study some of the odder inventions you may never have known existed.

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April 29th Zipper Day

Where would we be without the zipper today.  We take it for granted, as though it has always been available to us but honestly, it’s a relatively new invention.

The first prototype zipper was made by Elias Howe in 1851. It didn’t work.  Next came Whitcomb Judson in 1893 who was already a successful inventor having created the Pneumatic Street Railway.  He went into business with Colonel Lewis Walker and formed the Universal Fastner Company, developing his “Clasp Locker” which debut came at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  The only real problem was, it still didn’t work.

In 1901, the company was reorganized in New Jersey where it continued to try and make a workable product.  They hired a Swedish-American electrical engineer, Gideon Sundback who, after a marriage into the family, became the head designer.  He eventually moved the company to Pennsylvania and renamed it “Talon Inc.”.  It took until 1913 for Sundback to actually perfect the modern-day zipper.  Complicating it, he began to fight with Talon Inc. and moved the project to Canada to avoid legal complications in the US.  Over the years, this has made many believe that the zipper was a Canadian invention… it was not.  The Canadian company, “Lightning Fastner Company”, began to produce and distribute the “Zipper” Sundback had invented.

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While the new “zipper” caught on with companies requiring a fast closing device it did not break into the everyday market until B.F. Goodrich included the zipper on a pair of rubber boots for the consumer in 1923.  This was followed by Schott NYC who began using the zipper on leather jackets in 1925.  Since then, the zipper has become a part of everyday life.  Who knew such a simple product could have such a complicated beginning!

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How to celebrate:  Learn to appreciate your zipper, numerous men spent the vast majority of their lives trying to make it work!  Buy a pair of button fly pants so you can learn just how valuable the zipper actually is.  Find an interesting place to put a zipper, be different, use your imagination!