Happy Birthday to Hirsch and the Iconic ScramblePad

By John Piccininni

It’s August, and August is a pretty special month here at Identiv. Sure, it’s vacation season, the weather is great, the kids will soon be going back to school, but what makes it really special for us is that the month of August represents another anniversary of the formation of the Hirsch Electronics Corporation, now part of Identiv, and the release of its iconic ScramblePad – in 1981.

Today, 36 years later, Hirsch ScramblePads secure hundreds of thousands of doors, gates, and other portals around the world, tens of thousands of SCIFS and other secure government facilities, commercial facilities, schools, museums, and more.

With its scrambling display and viewing restrictor, ScramblePad secure the PIN code entry process at doors, gates, and other portals. No numbers show until the user pushes the “START” button, at which time the numbers are displayed in a random fashion. The user then enters their PIN code by pushing the appropriate buttons on the display. No one can capture your code by shoulder surfing, looking for worn keys, videoing the code entry process, or other sophisticated means. Each user gets their own PIN code, which can be 3 – 15 digits long, and all code lengths are supported simultaneously on the same system, making it virtually impossible even for insiders to guess another person’s code.

The Hirsch Controllers that ScramblePads connect to support features beyond just opening doors. Users can easily signal duress if they are being forced to enter an area, and they can operate alarm systems, turnstiles, elevators, and other building automation functions. They can control access to specific cabinets, lockers, pharmaceutical storage drawers, and cages in a data center. They can lock areas down or open in emergencies, all from a ScramblePad.

Over the years, we enhanced ScramblePad’s capabilities, including the addition of multi-technology card readers into the ScramblePad to provide secure dual authentication. Our TS ScramblePads can read virtually any low-frequency proximity or high-frequency credential — including MIFARE, DESFire, iClass, PIV, TWIC, NFC, and soon, Bluetooth. Current versions of the TS ScramblePad support RS-485 and Ethernet connectivity to allow firmware upgrades to be sent from the server to the readers, rather than other readers that require you to visit each reader with a programming card.

And for the first time, ScramblePads can connect to just about any access control system that accommodate Wiegand or RS-485 connections from readers — an easy way to enhance the security level of any system.

One test of a great idea, company, or product is whether it can stand the test of time. Few products, and few companies, manage to do so. Even fewer stay current and viable. By solving a real problem that real people and organizations have, the ScramblePad, and the company behind it, have done so.

Happy birthday to Hirsch, and thanks to all of our outstanding employees, present and past, and to the partners and customers who trust Identiv to protect their people, places, data and things.