The Evolution of the Promotional Keyring and Key Fob

Firstly, (for those of you who are don’t know yet!), a key fob is a useful item attached to a set of keys to provide better grip and ease of identification – or to act as a personal statement! An American man named G Herluf Johnson from Oregon invented Keyrings in 1922. The patent was issued for a keyring that was extremely simple to mass-produce and extremely practical in that once your keys were added to the keyring, they would never fall off!

Not long after the invention of the key ring, people began adding other useful accessories to keyrings other than just their keys – the key fob was born. Although the true origin of the word ‘fob’ is unknown, certain studies show that the word may be linked to the German word ‘fuppe’ meaning ‘pocket’. Some believe the word originated from watch fobs (an ornament attached to the pocket-watch chain), which existed as early as 1888. These days we use the word fob to describe a variety of items including, key chains, car starters, garage door openers, and keyless entry devices.

In the 1950s and 1960s with the improvement of plastic manufacturing techniques, promotional key fobs became more and more unique. Businesses could place their names on 3d promotional keyrings for a fraction of the price of the standard metal keychains. Fobs vary considerably in size, style and functionality. Most commonly they’re simple, small and made from a smooth metal or plastic. They help you avoid a fruitless scramble through your pockets or purse to find a single key, because the key fob, with its smooth ergonomical design is always easy to locate, and always easy to grab.

You may think that all keyrings are simply aesthetic, but that’s not always the case. They’re often manufactured to work as small tools like compasses, calculators, flashlights, penknives, bottle openers, security tokens, discount cards, and USB flash drives. A Typical keyring will display a short message or company logo linked to a group affiliation. These messages are well thought out and are an efficient way of reaching target markets.

As electronic technology continues to become smaller and cheaper, miniature key-fob versions of previously larger devices are becoming increasingly popular. The modern day keyring is no longer just a piece of plastic with a small message insert. Now digital photo frames, simple video games, USB flash drives and keyless entry systems all dominate the keyring world!

Even in recent years technologies in key fobs have come a long way. Take for example early electric key fobs for un-locking cars remotely. Using infrared technology, they required a clear line-of-sight to function and at the time, they could be easily duplicated using a programmable remote control allowing thieves easy entry to your locked vehicle. Recent models now use radio frequencies, which are harder to copy and don’t need line-of-sight to operate. Believe it or not, modern car key fobs can sometimes be confused as weapons! Nathan Rau, the proud owner of a 2003 Audi A4 found this out in April 2006, when he was arrested for possession of a concealed weapon – police confused his car keys for a switchblade!

Keychains are small and inexpensive enough to become efficient promotional items for large companies and business’ to hand them out by the millions. Key fobs are not fobs arguably tell tales of a person’s life – what shops they shop in, what cars they drive, what companies/charities they support and the type of person they are – organized, messy, clean or dirty!