Allen K. Breed

Inducted 1999

Inventor of the “ball in tube” or electromechanical crash sensor (EMS) Allen K. Breed’s persistence brought airbags to the forefront of the American automotive market. After working for RCA and establishing a division of the Gruen Watch Company, Allen K. Breed founded his first company, Waltham Engineering. He formed BREED Corporation in 1961 to develop and manufacture safety and arming devices for the military. In 1968, Breed designed the first electromechanical crash sensor (EMS) for airbag systems. From 1969 to 1984, he carried the latest version of the EMS in his pocket. Convinced of the importance of airbags to passenger safety, Breed testified at congressional hearings about the benefits of his system. By the mid-1980s, he began to receive small orders for the EMS from General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. Finally, in 1984, passive restraint regulations resulted in the large-scale birth of the airbag industry, with BREED Corporation as the only supplier in the world at that time with sensing technology for automotive safety systems. In 1997, Allen K. Breed received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Automotive & Transportation Interiors Magazine for contributions to passenger safety.

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