Technology has advanced so rapidly in the last century there are generations that can’t imagine life without cellphones and computers to say the least. There are also many everyday items that we mostly take for granted on a daily basis without much thought as to the who, how, what, where and why these products were invented.
Take Velcro for instance
While on a hunting trip in the 1040’s a Swiss engineer, George de Mestral, was intrigued with how the seeds of the common burdock plant stayed attached to his pants and the fur on his dog. Later, under a microscope, he noted how the seed’s hooks engaged with the loops in the fabric of his pants. With the help of friends in the weaving business, de Mestral eventually duplicated the natural hook and loop fastener by using a lineal fabric strip with tiny hooks that could be temporarily attached to another fabric strip with smaller loops. De Mestral patented the product in 1955 and gave it the name Velcro; a portmanteau of the French words velour (velvet) and crochet (hook).
Ziplock baggies and plastic zippers
Unfortunately for Danish inventor, writer and student of theology, Borge Madsen, he wasn’t quite sure what to do with the plastic zipper he’d invented: The basic design of which consisted of a plastic slider that could seal two interlocking grooves together. Madsen sold the rights to the invention to the Ausnit family who formed a manufacturing company for the product called Flexigrip.
The prohibitive cost of the manufacturing (adhering the zipper to bags with a heat press) inspired Steven Ausnit, a mechanical engineer, to create the current and beloved press-and-seal zipper that adorns most all of our essential plastic baggies that come in a wide variety of sizes/capacities and offer a variety of storage uses; including but not limited to food, cosmetics and and endless assortment of odds n’ ends.
So there you have it. Au contraire to the rumors inspired by the cult classic sci fi movie, Men in Black, Velcro is not an alien gift to humanity. Now, microwave ovens on the other hand…