Happy Birthday, Velcro: History of an Innovation, in Videos

On the anniversary of the issuing of Velcro's U.S. patent, a celebration of one of the best examples ever of biomimetic design

velcroedit22.jpg
This year, Velcro—one of the world's most beloved multipurpose inventions—celebrates its 60th birthday, and today marks the 53rd anniversary of Velcro's U.S. patent. The miracle adhesive was the brainchild of Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral. One afternoon, as he was taking a walk in the forest, he noticed the that burrs—the seeds of burdock thistle— stuck to his clothes and wondered how they did that. So he excitedly rushed home, stuck one under the microscope, and spent the next ten years perfecting nature's brilliant hook-and-loop adhesion mechanism, eventually producing one of history's smartest applications of biomimetic design.

To celebrate Velcro's birthday, here are three different animated short films that tell the same great story of ingenuity and perseverance in just over a minute each.

From HowStuffWorks, here's a characteristically short-and-sweet evaluation of the invention. Though I have to disagree with their 2/5 on the benefits-to-humanity scale—anything that's good enough for NASA should be good enough for at least a 4.



From Pan-African media portal ABN Digital, a beat-by-beat recap on the chronology of Velcro's invention and its impact as a zipper alternative.



And my favorite, from designer Antonio Alarcón Román, a delightfully fuzzy motion graphics narrative:



And a big "THANK YOU" to my wonderful intern, Adam Rubin, who is doing an admirable job of cataloging notable birthdays, deaths, and historical anniversaries for me to find interesting content around.


This post also appears on Brain Pickings.
Image: quinn.anya/flickr

Presented by

Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In