As you lock your home and car each day in preparation for a day at work and other daily activities, do you ever give thought to how the lock and key came to be? That simple fob or key you hold in your hand has a long and rich history according to the experts at A&B Auto Locksmith Near Me; thanks to those early prototypes and many trial and error participants, we now have a better handle on securing our belongings and protecting those we hold so dear.
How Did It All Begin?
According to Pliny the Elder, the first key was held in the 6th century BC by someone named Theodorus of Samos. Stories throughout Greek and Egyptian history cite the use of locks and keys, which are also found in Old Testament scripts. Wooden locking was used in Egypt nearly four thousand years ago. What is most fascinating about this early form of security was that it still serves as the prototype for what we use in today’s mechanical locks.
Other primitive locks were used in Nineveh, the capital of ancient Assyria, now known as Iraq. These wooden pin locks functioned like large wooden toothbrushes, with pegs communicating with pins that needed to lift in order to open the lock. Valuables and places of religious and historical significance were secured this way, which made the need for physical security virtually obsolete. Unfortunately, these locks were easily broken by force, and early locksmiths went back to the drawing board to work out deficiencies and provide better security solutions.
The Warded Lock
The Roman empire was home to many technological and social innovations, including advancements in the Egyptian wooden lock that made it more durable. Wood materials were swapped out for molded brass and iron, making them significantly stronger than their flimsy predecessors. With the addition of metal into locking mechanisms, the Romans designed early versions of the warded lock, making it necessary for the insertion of a key to bypass projections in order to access what was inside.
This groundbreaking advancement became the foundation for many more sophisticated versions of the lock and key to be formed. Even though the world was headed for the Dark Ages, mankind had found its way through advancements that shed light on the world of locksmithing.
Dark Age Enlightenment
The warded lock stood the test of time for thousands of years after its invention, though they were relatively easy to pick. Early locksmiths of the Dark Ages dedicated themselves to developing more sophisticated combinations of projection within locks and in keys, including the development of:
- multi-key mechanisms
- complex key designs
- fake keyholes
Robert Barron and Joseph Bramah can be credited with the next stage of lock advancement in the late 18th century. The patent of the double-acting tumbler lock featured two levels that had to be elevated before a bolt could be removed. Bramah’s contribution to the lock and key world included the development of the Bramah locking mechanism, which used cylinder-shaped keys with a series of notches that needed to be aligned and inserted into an identical shape to open it. This lock is still sold and in use today, serving as one of the few locking mechanisms that cannot be easily picked.
Early Modern Mechanisms
In 1848, Linus Yale patented a unique pin tumbler mechanism that closely mimicked early Egyptian prototypes. This lock used a key that aligned with a unique set of pins in order for the lock barrel to turn. These Yale locks are used all over the world today, known for their unique composition that resists penetration and the ability to easily service and change them. Interestingly enough, the majority of locks still in existence today are variations of the early Barron, Bramah, and Yale prototypes.
While we’ve had some variations of locks in the security world such as push button locks, key fobs, digital locks, and security access cards, many people still prefer the safety and security of a solid lock and key mechanism for home and property.
Not only are they more cost-effective and easily serviced, but they also put you at the helm of home and property security for you and your loved ones. We pay homage to these early pioneers for their innovation and creative thinking, thankful for the vision that they had for building a safer, more secure future, one lock and key at a time.