Pioneers of the Past

Nov. 15, 2004
These people influenced the direction and success of the lock and locksmithing industry in the years since 1939

The following people influenced the direction and success of the lock and locksmithing industry in the years since 1939. While they are no longer living, their legacy of inventions and ideas has left an indelible impression on the procedures and products locksmiths work with each day. This is surely not a complete listing of every person who has contributed to our profession since 1939 but rather shows examples of the type of people who have made our jobs much easier and more profitable.

• Adams, Arthur – Partner and president of Adams Rite Manufacturing, the company that developed the "narrow stile" hardware including the "MS" maximum security deadlock.

• Agius, Frank – Developed many key machines, locksmith tools, and one of the first Space and Depth books for locksmiths. He is also known for being the "Frank" of the Frank and Bill Show, free weekend seminars produced by the Locksmith Ledger magazine.

• Best, Frank - Developed and patented the "Figure 8" interchangeable core lock cylinder and built the Best Lock Company into a significant manufacturer/sales company in the security industry.

• Briggs, Stephen F. – The inventor half of Briggs & Stratton. Developed the combination switch/lock for automotive ignitions in 1915.

• DeVine, Hollis – Originated the quadrant master key system which provides an organized grouping for change keys and lower level master keys.

• Finch, Gerry – Educator and consultant to a number of lock manufacturers. He developed locksmith tools and wrote books on lock picking, interchangeable core, and master keying.

• Hoffman, A. J. – Compiled lock information for Corbin-Russwin, Kwikset, and Schlage into the readable format that is available to locksmiths. Also known as a master keying expert.

• Hoffman, Harold – One of the first manufacturers of mass-produced lock picks and specialized locksmith tools.

• McLean, S. A. – Developed one of the first code books. He also wrote technical books and a locksmith magazine.

• Miller, Harry – Developed the group 1 combination lock and many improvements in safe combination locks. He was a founder of Lockmasters, a locksmith school and supply company.

• Reed, Bill – Served as editor of Ledger from 1974 to 1988 and then publisher from 1988 to 1991. Bill's famous "road shows" were the highlight of many a town, as Reed Ledger experts held teaching sessions across the country. His grandfather E.D. Reed founded the Reed Code Books in 1924, and dad Gerald Reed was a practicing locksmith in the Dallas area in the 1960s and 70s.

• Segal, Sam – A New York policeman in the early 20th century who invented the "Jimmy-Proof" lock incorporating the vertical interlocking bolt.

• Schlage, Walter – Developed the modern-day cylindrical lock, started the Schlage Lock Company, and invented the "deadlocking" latch bolt.

• Singer, M. Leonard - Created the Locksmith Ledger magazine, started a locksmith school, and wrote books.

• Wiegand, Jensen - Standardized key measurement, and developed one of the first key origination machines using dial indicators.

• Voight, Henry – Prolific inventor of lock hardware products for Russell & Erwin and Sargent with more than 300 patents.

• Zipf, William – Inventor of the Zipf pin kit containing a graduated length, color-coated pin tumblers developed for cylindrical locks. These pins could be used without modification to combinate a cylindrical lock to the manufacturer's specifications.