According to Encarta, the zipper was invented in 1891 by Whitcomb L. Judson who patented it under the name "Clasp Locker or Unlocker". The clunky moniker held until 1926 when people started calling it the zipper. Ever since the toothy closer-upper appeared, it’s been an inspiration to designers everywhere.
Here’s a few images from a very interesting collection that illustrates our zipper fascination.
Zipper Paint Job: