In last night's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama praised Master Lock, a 90-year-old Milwaukee-based company, for building its locks here in the United States. "A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. Today, for the first time in fifteen years, Master Lock's unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity," the president said. Within minutes, Master Lock's website was down, as our own Megan Garber noted on Twitter. Harry Soref founded the company in 1921, with a drill press, a grinder, a punch press, and five employees

At the time, lock technology was pretty feeble -- most locks could be broken apart with nothing more than a hammer. Why not employ the laminated-steel technology found in battleships and bank-vault doors to build a more secure lock? His design for a laminated steel casing, patented in 1924, used scrap metal from other manufacturing, meaning his "lock of superior quality" could be build "at an inconsiderable cost."

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Image: Google Patents.