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In Memoriam: Ted Zeigler

Ted Zeigler passed away on January 9, one month shy of his 96th birthday. Graphic designer, inventor and innovator, Zeigler revolutionized the tradeshow industry with the invention of Instand in the 1970s.

A football star at Boulder High in Colorado, Zeigler served in World War II before attending University of Colorado. Moving to Northern Virginia for a career in graphic design, his fascination with Buckminster Fuller’s studies in geodesic design led to Zeigler building geodesic models from toothpicks and frozen peas. He forgot about the models and left them sitting overnight. The next morning he saw the collapsed structures (from the thawed peas) and wondered if he could reverse the process. He took his idea to Fuller who told him if he could do that, Fuller would put him in contact with his patent lawyer.

So Zeilger did.

The pop-up display was affordable, easy-to-install and suddenly gave small companies a chance to participate in tradeshows, hitherto a financial impossibility. He created Nomadic Display to sell his remarkable invention, and went on to be an important part of the industry, with various other patents in the 1970s.

In the mid ’80s, he worked with the nonprofit World Shelters to create temporary housing, clinics and offices for disaster relief. Today the US military uses rapid install/collapsible structures around the world.

The EDPA recognized Zeigler’s outstanding contribution to the experiential/exhibit industry with the prestigious Hazel Hays Award. Exhibitor magazine’s Zeigler Award, a top honor in portable and modular displays, is named after him. Nomadic Display’s Teddy, named in his honor, recognizes the most creative use of the company’s products.

He is survived by his daughters Judy (who bought Nomadic from her father and took it international) and Connie, as well as numerous grandchildren, and a legacy the tradeshow industry will never forget.

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