It was, perhaps, one of the longest development efforts on record for a consumer product. Whitcomb Judson received his first patents in the early 1890s. It took more than 15 years to perfect the product, but even then consumers weren't interested. The company suffered numerous financial setbacks, name changes, and relocations, before settling in Meadville, Pa. Finally, the U.S. Navy started using Judson's zippers during World War I. Today, Talon Inc. is the leading U.S. maker of zippers, producing some 500 million of them a year.