The oldest lock ever found was discovered by archeologists in the Khorsabad palace ruins near Nineveh, the old capital of ancient Assyria. This wooden lock was the ancestor of, and similar to, our modern pin and tumbler locks. These innovative locks were very popular at the time and were also common in Ancient Egypt.
Locks And The Bible
In the Old Testament of the Bible it is said that when the gates of Jerusalem were being repaired, they fixed the doors, the bars, and the locks. Although we can never be 100% sure, these locks were probably made of wood with an ancient replica of the modern pin and tumbler locks.
The Chinese of the Eastern Han Dynasty were the first to make mobile locks, the early forerunner of the modern padlock. These locks were made of metals like brass or bronze and used keys or ancient forms of combination locks and served to lock containers of goods along the trade routes.
Padlocks were also used by the Romans, and then by the Vikings after them. During the middle ages, however, there were very few innovations in lock design, but the artistic decorations on the outside of the locks were greatly improved on.
King Louis XVI, was an avid locksmith who enjoyed making and picking locks, although it didn’t help him in being able to escape form his imprisonment in the Tour Du Temple in Paris before his execution by guillotine.
No-one is sure of who invented the lever tumbler lock in Europe during the 1700’s, but what we do know is that Robert Barron of England improved on this type of lock with his “double acting lever tumbler locks”. This is one of the most innovative locks ever designedand changed the future of lock development forever.
The Cast Heart locks of the American railroad era developed in the 19th century. Cast Heart locks got their name from the shape of the lock which was heart-shaped. This lock changed the face of locks again with its sand cast brass or bronze body and much improved lever mechanism. These locks were popular with the railroads because they cost very little and could still open no matter what physical condition they were in; whether frozen, wet or dirty this lock was guaranteed to work. These locks were so successful that they were remanufactured and repackaged in a smaller size for home use.
The Modern Lock
The modern lock as we know it today was invented by Linus Yale Sr. in 1848 based on the earlier Cast Heart Locks. His son Linus Yale Jr., a mechanical engineer, improved on his father’s lock by making the key flatter and with serrated edges; exactly as we know it today.
The disc tumbler lock was invented by Emil Henriksson in 1907 and is made of a series of rotating discs with slots. This lock is extremely difficult to pick, needing high levels of expertise, making other means of gaining entry much more appealing. For this reason they are sold as “high security locks”.
Since the early days, there have been many more lock designs. Companies such as the Medeco Locks have created innovative locks which use a patented locking mechanism and key control system making them much more secure than an ordinary lock. For this reason they are popular with the military and governments from around the world.
As far back as we can find, locks have played a major part in keeping us safe and our property protected. If you want to know more about locks ask your Local Locksmith who can advise you about all the latest advances in lock design.