History of American Lock

In 1912, America was filled with inventive visionaries. One of these was American Lock founder John Junkunc. An immigrant from Hungary, Junkunc worked as a railroad machinist in Boise, Idaho. He had a strong interest in designing and inventing gadgets and small tools to make his work easier. Because he often misplaced his keys, Junkunc developed a “small” invention to help with the problem — the revolutionary dial combination lock.

Fellow workers were so fascinated with this unique keyless lock — the world’s first — that the young inventor spent much of his time filling orders for it. Soon he found he had to work full time manufacturing combination locks. So Junkunc resigned his railroad job, moved to Chicago, and set up shop in the basement of his home. His new innovation quickly gained worldwide prominence.

In 1919 his company moved to larger facilities and acquired the American Lock Company, a manufacturer of cylinders. Junkunc figured out a way to mass produce a high quality padlock at a lower cost. He told his employees, “We are going to do one thing — make padlocks — and we’re going to do it better than anyone else!”

More inventions followed, including the now famous ball-locking keyed padlock, hardened steel shackles and solid extruded brass padlocks. From these basement beginnings came Junkunc’s development of solid steel padlock bodies in the 1920s — the foundation of American Lock’s industrial grade security and of one of the largest manufacturers of solid body padlocks in the world.

The company settled in Crete, Illinois, just south of Chicago, in the early 1960s. In 2003, American Lock was acquired by fellow Midwestern padlock manufacturer Master Lock, the world’s largest padlock manufacturer and supplier. The two companies shared similar beginnings and a history of quality and innovation; Master Lock was founded in 1921 in a one-room Milwaukee factory by locksmith Harry Soref, who patented the first laminated padlock in 1924.

Today American Lock’s high security products continue to offer superior, precision-machined padlocks that exceed industry standards and are the security brand of choice for industry, government and commercial users worldwide.

Their ability to withstand attack as well as continual abuse in the harshest environments have earned American Lock the distinction of “The Locksmith’s Lock.”

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