The Evolution of Locks

So, you want to know about how locks evolved and came into being? Well,come closer and lend us your ears because the story is long, involved, and a closely guarded secret….
Here then is how modern locks and their long, illustrious history, came to be.
The first thing to bear in mind is that locks came into being because people liked the idea of keeping something (treasure, something of value, themselves) away from the reach of others.Take the ancient Egyptians and their locks for instance.

Egyptian Locks

These celebrated people were quite advanced in the world of locks. In fact, the basics they came up with are still in use in residential homes. We call this innovation, the ‘pin tumbler.’ How amazing is it that we still use such ancient technologies even to this very day? We’d say it’s rather amazing. We’d go so far as to say that the Egyptian innovation was one that shaped the evolution of locks for centuries and even millennia to come.

Do you use a key? The Egyptians locks were one of the first types of locks that used keys. The correct key would line up the pins within the lock that normally are loose, and which hold the bolt in its position. The right key lines up all the pins and makes their height even, which in turn allows the bolt to open. Consider this odd but true fact…your keys are likely quite small, while those of the Egyptians were over a foot long and looked strangely like giant toothbrushes!

Colonial America And The Evolution of Locks

You see, those colonists knew a thing or two about keeping people out. Though, to be honest…once a person left the home, using the Latchstring locking system, he or she really couldn’t lock the door behind them. The latchstring was kind of a key. Incredibly simple, the Latchstring allowed someone to pull a string through a hole near the handle to the door. This string then lifted a bow on the opposite side of the door that allowed the door to open.If someone saw the string hanging loosely on the outside of the door, this was taken as a sign of welcome.

New Innovations

Then, in 1784 a man by the name of Joseph Bramah came up with a sophisticated lock (the most sophisticated ever invented until then) and it came to be known as Bramah’s Safety Lock. Indeed, it also became well-known as the hardest lock to pick. It’s locking mechanism was the first to use six sheets of metal plates. These metal sheets were set just so, in a circle, and an very small pipe key was used to engage them. Joseph Bramah’s lock remained the hardest lock to pick for over half a century. But, of course, time and innovation marches on.

Linus Yale Sr.

There came, in 1844, a new lock called the “Quadruplex.” A take off of the original Egyptian system, the new lock designed by Linus Yale Sr. actually increased and changed the Egyptian’s design. What Mr. Yale’s lock did was to change the number of pins used in the tumbler. In fact, Mr. Yale’s design increased the number of pins, and changed how they were set. Indeed, Mr. Yale’s new lock is essentially the same design regular locks use today.His son, went on to design the same concepts we use today in the combination pad lock. The bottom line here is that the Yales…father and son…are responsible for much of the modern design of locks used throughout the world today.

Evolution Takes a Leap

The Yale’s lock design was (and still is) the basis for most locks. However, an evolutionary leap forward in lock design came in the 1920’s with the introduction of the cylindrical push-button system. This lock system was designed by Walter Schlage, and this kind of lock actually is commonly seen on bedroom and bathroom doors throughout America.Push the button in the center of the door knob, and the door is locked. Turn the handle on the interior door, and the door is unlocked. His was an amazingly simple, yet effective design. The man actually ended up winning an award for it!

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