In 1948, a Swiss mountaineer named George de
Mestral was walking through the woods and was very
frustrated by the burs that clung to his clothes. While
picking them off, he realized that it may be possible to
use this principle to make a fastener to compete with
Everyone laughed at him, except for a weaver at a
textile plant in France. Together, they
designed what they called "locking tape". It was made from cotton.
The biggest problem that they faced was mass
producing it. Sophisticated equipment was needed. He
searched for a solution. Accidently, de Mestral
discovered that nylon, when sewn under infrared light,
formed indestructible hooks, and the design was
Next problem - the name. Somehow 'hookless fastener'
or 'locking tape' did not seem right. If I were there, I
would have suggested a name like 'man made bur tape
that sticks to the other side and fastens things together' -
a much catchier name. He liked the sound of "vel" from velvet and "cro" from
the French word crochet (meaning hook). And the
name VelcroŽ stuck, just like those annoying burs.
(their legal department wants you to know that Velcro
is a trademarked name of Velcro USA and not a
generic name - in other words, they don't make the
imitation hook and loop fasteners - they make the
original, high quality stuff).
By the end of the 1950's, textile looms were churning
out sixty million yards of this stuff a year. Just think how
much they make today.
Here's an idea for a new product - VelcroŽ (again,
Velcro is a registered trademark for Velcro USA's
brand of hook and loop fasteners) patches glued to the
mouths of people that seem to never shut up. May
By the way, VelcroŽ (and yet again, Velcro is a registered trademark
for - you know who - Velcro USA - don't confuse them with the cheap
imitation hook and loop fasteners ) has a major problem - the
name has become generic. Any day now the U. S.
Courts are going to tell them that they no longer have
exclusive rights to the trademark any more (probably
the main reason they want me to use care with their
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