Master keys are an interesting technology somewhat related to lock picking (because they're means of getting past locks without the main key).
Some locks are designed to work with two different keys. The change key will open only that specific lock, while the master key will open that lock and several others in a group. In these locks, a few of the pin pairs are separated by a third pin called a master wafer or spacer.
When three pins are combined in a shaft, there are two ways to position the pins so they open the lock. The change key might raise the pins so that the shear line is just above the top of the master wafer, while the master key would raise the pins so the shear line is at the bottom of the master wafer. In both cases, there is a gap at the shear line and the key is able to turn.
In this lock design, the lowest pin would be the same length in each lock in the group, but the master wafer would vary in length. This lets one person, say a building manager, access many different locks, while each individual key-holder can open only his or her own lock.