History of Locks

January 25 / 2023

History of Locks

Locks and keys are important fixtures in both commercial and residential buildings. They not only make lives easier for us but also provide security and privacy. However, before locks existed, humans had alternatives to securing their properties. Centuries back, people often used planks or long rods across the door to secure homes, palaces, or workshops.

What Necessitated the Invention?

There was no locksmith to call if you were locked out or if the door was damaged and you were outside the building. During this period, ropes and knots were used to tell if someone had just entered the building. As innovative as this mechanism looked at the time, it wasn't safe. It offered little to no protection against unwanted visitors or intruders. Recognizing this gap in the security of buildings, engineers in ancient times came up with a solution now known as locks.

Based on several sources, the earliest discovered lock and key was found in the middle-east - in the city of Ninevah. The Assyrian lock and key date back to 4,000 BC, and it was used in the Palace of Khorsabad. The lock was a pin and tumbler type of lock; however, it was made of wood. At the time, only the wealthy had locks installed in their homes or businesses.

Locks Continued to Evolve

Over time, different civilizations modified the Assyrian lock, adding new features to suit their security needs. For instance, the Egyptians added brass pins to make the lock stronger, while the Greeks added more metal to the lock. On the other hand, Roman engineers built a smaller, similar lock. The Roman lock was designed to be used on the chest of drawers. This innovation is the precursor to modern safes. It took the medieval period before the basic pin tumbler experienced major changes in its design.

An Englishman developed the first lock with a keyhole. It's the first all-metal warded lock - one that can only be opened by a proper key - to be designed and created. The lock has patterned wards that block just any key opening of the lock. Although this modification is a laudable improvement at the time, it also has its shortcoming.

This first all-metal lock gave way to the creation of the skeleton key. It was useful for landlords, hotel owners, restaurant owners, and other business owners. Nevertheless, it was handy for thieves who could easily break into those homes or businesses and cart away valuables. Unlike now that you can hire Colorado Springs Locksmith to install quality security locks; those of old were not lucky.

As more urban cities sprung up and more people became wealthy, better security measures for buildings originated. Inadvertently, better locks were developed. Robert Barron was one of the men at the forefront of this revolution. He patented a double-acting lever tumbler lock in 1778.


From that year onwards, there have been several features added to enhance locks the security. At the moment, if you have challenges with your locks or security system, do not worry because local locksmith service providers like Colorado Springs Locksmith will always have your back. We can help you install all lock types. Call us today to get prompt services.

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