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

By Maria Popova

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

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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

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/05/happy-birthday-velcro-history-of-an-innovation-in-videos/238852/