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It’s estimated 4.5 billion zippers are purchased every year in the U.S. That’s 14 zippers for per American, per year.
The technology itself was far from an instant hit. For one thing, other methods for closing things—such as buttons, hooks-and-eyes, and laces—had been around a long time and worked just fine, even if they could be slow and laborious. “There was no general sense that this was an area begging for improvement, much less replacement,” wrote technology historian Robert Friedel in Zipper: An Exploration in Novelty.
It also took decades of different people reworking the basic design of the zipper, finding an audience for it, and figuring out the right marketing to make it as popular as it is today. But the zipper succeeded, and arguably offers a counterpoint to anyone who thinks an idea that has been tried in one form and didn’t immediately catch on is already dead.