During the mid 1970’s, the idea of a full powered, compact pistol for concealed carry did not exist, one had to carry a small, and invariably inferior caliber handgun. Paris Theodore from the ASP Corporation was the first do modifiy S&W Model 39’s to a compact shape, specifically for concealment and easy draw. Formula One race car driver and mechanical-engineer-turned-gunsmith Charlie Kelsey ordered an ASP-modified pistol, but after almost two years of not receiving his order, he teamed up with firearm instructor Ken Hackathorn to start the DEVEL Corporation. Devel was derived from the Scottish word for delivering a sudden or severe blow. The Devel conversion was an improvement over the ASP design and did not just use the S&W 39, but also the S&W M59 with double stack magazine. The grip was also see-through so the shooter could check the number of rounds in the magazine and the grip had the Devel logo inserted.
Kelsey did not just stop with S&W autos, he also did conversions on 1911’s as well as Browning Hi-Powers and his work was highly regarded. Eventually the concept of concealed carry caught on and firearm manufacturers started to make their own versions. Some of the designs that he had done was taken by the manufacturers and used, as was the case with the firing pin safety on the Browning, coupled with the shortened 1911 magazines that they could not get to work properly and had to purchase back again from the owners. The Devel Corporation was liquidated in 1984.
See also : Gat Daily.com