90 years of security with IKON - the profile cylinder now used worldwide was patented in 1928

The first focal plane shutter camera in the world and the first profile cylinder in Germany have more in common than people think: both played a major role in the development of IKON. As Zeiss Ikon AG, it was one of the most important companies in the precision mechanics and optics industry, and today IKON is the most successful brand of ASSA ABLOY Sicherheitstechnik GmbH in the field of locking and security technology in Germany and can look back on a proud 90-year history.

Stefan Fischbach, CEO of ASSA ABLOY Sicherheitstechnik GmbH and Market Region Manager DACH, knows what he has in IKON: "We are proud to be able to take such a traditional and well-known quality brand into the future. IKON is a piece of German industrial history, whose roots give us stability and spur us to take the vision and courageous entrepreneurship of our ancestors into our modern world."

It all began in Berlin in 1886 with a small retail mail-order business for mathematical instruments. Founder Carl Paul Goerz did not imagine then that he would be laying the foundations for a successful global company. But with his strong business acumen, he looked beyond the walls of his business and recognised the potential in photography: in 1887, Goerz added cameras and accessories to his product range and thus put his bet on a product of the future. One year later, he bought the mechanical workshop of F.A. Hintze in order to manufacture his own cameras. In 1890, the Goerz Anschütz folding strut camera was born: the first focal plane shutter camera in the world, which produced stop-action photographs.

Sophisticated cameras and patented locking cylinders

Goerz's next big coup was in 1910 when he absorbed AG Hahn from Kassel into his business for optics and fine mechanics. This subsidiary developed the first "security lock with locking cylinder" and filed a patent application for it in 1924. The patent was finally officially granted 90 years ago in 1928, and was based on the round cylinder with five pin tumblers developed by the US American Linus Yale Jr. The great benefit of the construction form of the profile cylinder was the possibility to retrofit it into existing mortise locks, since the lock and locking cylinder are separate. This renowned profile cylinder is now the most common form of cylinder used in security door locks.

After WW1, although Goerz's business fell into difficulties due to the Versailles Treaty, it caused a great deal of envy on the market with high-quality optical and fine mechanical devices: competitor Zeiss from Jena initiated an extensive merger in 1926 with numerous companies in the fine mechanics-optics industry and ultimately also took over Goerz AG. The new name Zeiss Ikon AG was not only a confident demonstration of Carl Zeiss's entrepreneurship, but also used the Greek word IKON for the first time, which translates as: image.

With its unique know-how in the design and manufacture of complex locking systems in particular, IKON has made an international name for itself over time. Every order entailed an extensive process from design, calculation and manufacture to delivery and support, as every new system was essentially custom made. The biggest IKON system ever designed comprises the virtually unimaginable number of half a million locking cylinders.

Zeiss and Ikon go their separate ways

After decades of successful entrepreneurship and a great era in German camera technology, the now world-renowned Zeiss Ikon Group stood on the brink of failure in parallel to the dissolution of former East Germany in November 1989. Optics and fine mechanics went their separate ways. Lock and cylinder production went to ABLOY, a Finnish company, who also maintained the name IKON. But a well-known name is an asset in itself, and so IKON remained until today. This is also partly thanks to the 2005 merger with effeff Fritz Fuss GmbH & Co. KGaA, Albstadt. Out of this merger emerged ASSA ABLOY Sicherheitstechnik GmbH as a part of the international corporation ASSA ABLOY from Stockholm. As one of the leading manufacturers, it produces and distributes electromechanical and electronic locks, cylinders, security door locks and escutcheons - and the renowned profile cylinder patented in 1928. It is still sold worldwide by ASSA ABLOY under the IKON brand. Other current products with the IKON name are mechanical, mechatronic and electronic locking cylinders, special additional locking devices and door escutcheons. Stefan Fischbach sees a positive future for IKON under ASSA ABLOY: "We will continue working with an innovative team to develop innovative IKON products for a digital age, which meet the standards of our successful past."