George de Mestral
In 1955, George de Mestral patented VELCRO® hook and loop fasteners, an efficient way to fasten fabrics and other materials. The idea came to him after observing the way a burr's barbed hooks clung to clothing. He found the logistics of attaching hundreds of tiny hooks to cloth tape to be a challenge, but eventually his hook and loop fastener was manufactured as VELCRO®, derived from the French words velour (velvet) and crochet (hooks).
VELCRO® fasteners have provided society with a practical and effective tool. Although most hook and loop tapes are nylon-based, there are also varieties made from plastic, stainless steel, and silver-impregnated substances for electrical applications. Touch fasteners are used in clothing, aircraft, office equipment, and sporting and leisure equipment. They are also used in the automotive and medical industries, nuclear engineering, and NASA's space program.
De Mestral was born in a small village near Lausanne, Switzerland. By working odd jobs, he paid his way through the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, where he graduated as an electrical engineer. He began his own company to manufacture VELCRO® fasteners, and later sold it and all patent rights. Today, the Velcro companies continue to manufacture touch fasteners and other products.