History of Locks & Schlage

Schlage History We didn’t invent the lock. We perfected it.

Read on to find out about the history of locks and home security, as well as Schlage's important role in it.

2000 B.C.—Locks appear in ancient Egypt

Records show locks in use some 4,000 years ago in Egypt. Fastened vertically on the door post, the wooden lock contained moveable pins, or “pin tumblers”, that dropped by gravity into openings in the cross piece, or “bolt”, and locked the door. It was operated by a wooden key with pegs or prongs that raised the number of tumblers sufficiently to clear the bolt so that it could be pulled back. This method of locking was the forerunner of modern pin tumbler locks.

722-705 B.C.—First wooden lock discovered

The first wooden lock was discovered in Persia in a security gate in the palace of Sargon II, dating back to 722 to 705 B.C. In appearance and operation, it was very similar to the wooden cane-tumbler locks. The pegs at the bit end of the key correspond to the bars, or the tumblers, in the bolt. When inserted, the pegs lifted the tumblers so the bolt could be retracted and the door or gate could be opened.

445 B.C.—Locks in the Old Testament

In the book of Nehemiah, Chapter 3, it is stated that when repairing the old gates of the City of Jerusalem – probably in 445 B.C. – they “set up the doors thereof, and the locks thereof, and the bars thereof.” At this time locks were made of wood.

870-890—All-metal locks appear

The first all-metal locks appeared between the years 870 and 900, and are attributed to the English craftsmen. They were simple bolts, made of iron with wards (obstructions) fitted around the keyholes to prevent tampering.

1784—New concepts developed in lock-making

New concepts for locking devices were developed in Europe in the 17th century. Early Bramah locks utilized a series of sliders in a circular pattern to provide exceptional security. Bramah is the oldest lock company in the world and continues to manufacture its famous mechanism more than 200 years later.

1774-1920—Lock-making takes off

Between 1774 and 1920, American locksmiths patented some 3,000 varieties of lock devices.

1909—Schlage’s first patent

Walter Schlage’s first invention, patented in 1909, was a door lock that turned lights on and off.

1920—The first Schlage lock shop

In about 1920, Mr. Schlage left his employment at Western Electric and opened a shop at 229 Mirma Street. He soon moved to loft quarters at 461 Bush St., which is now the heart of the San Francisco Financial District. It was here that tools for manufacturing the first lock with a push-button locking device centered in the door knob were designed and produced.

Early 1920’s—Schlage advances cylindrical pin-tumbler locks

In the early 1920’s, Walter Schlage advanced the concept of a cylindrical pin-tumbler lock by placing a push-button locking mechanism between the two knobs.

1923—Schlage goes into full-scale production

In 1923, Mr. Schlage moved his fledgling company to new quarters at 49 Shotwell St., where he went into full-scale production of the push-button lock, which was destined to revolutionize the door lock industry.

1926—Bayshore Boulevard. Plant is open for business

Confident of success, Mr. Schlage purchased a tract of two and half acres in the southeast section of San Francisco, known as Visitacion Valley. There, on Friday, June 25, 1926, the first unit of the San Francisco plant on Bayshore Boulevard was formally dedicated and declared open for business.

1940—Schlage named a “Modern Pioneer”

Six years before his death, Walter Schlage was honored and received the Modern Pioneer Award given to outstanding American inventors.

1946—Walter Schlage dies

1950’s—Schlage expands through acquisitions

The company began a period of expansion in the early 1950’s. It acquired California Lock Company to add a low-cost lock to the product line, Peabody Company from custom door hardware, and the LCN Closers to round out a more complete range of door hardware offerings.

1965—Von Duprin is acquired

In 1965, the Von Duprin factory was acquired, adding panic door-opener devices to the Schlage lock offering.

1970’s—General Lock Company is purchased

In the 1970’s, under the presidency of Marron Kendrick, Schlage purchased a mortise lock manufacturing company, General Lock Company of Pontiac, MI.

1974—Ingersoll Rand acquires Schlage

Schlage was acquired by Ingersoll Rand, a Fortune 150 manufacturer of industrial, mining and construction equipment, in 1974. As a result of the acquisition, Schlage Lock became part of the Ingersoll Rand Door Hardware Group.

1975—Schlage goes global

Expansion continued under Ingersoll Rand and, in 1975, Schlage acquired lock manufacturing facilities in New Zealand.

1976—Schlage moves into Security, CO

The Security, CO, plant was opened in 1976 and now produces six standard series locksets as well as handcrafted door hardware products.

1997—Schlage moves to Colorado Springs, CO

In 1997, Schlage relocated its administrative offices to CO Springs, CO, while Technical Services and Customer Services remained in San Francisco, CA.

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