Locksmith History

Dec 24


Jason Capshaw

Jason Capshaw

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The science of Locksmith was originally conceived for the purposes of making and defeating locks. Since its inception, there has been two major components in locksmith, the lock itself and a key to open the lock.


Opening a lock may depend on several different factors such as a what you have,Locksmith History Articles like a key or key card. What you know, such as a combination and or what you are such as a fingerprint or retinal scan.

Many locks use tumbler pins in order to secure their doors or cabinets. A pin tumbler lock uses pins of different heights to stop the lock from opening unless the correct key is uses. Most of these locks are cylinder but may be found in other types of locks as well.

One of the first locks ever made was discovered by archaeologists in Emperor's Sargon II's palace in Khorsabad.  The lock used the pin tumbler principle that is still employed today and has lasted for over 4000 years!

There is evidence that many civilizations developed locks independent of each other. The Greek's original lock was much more simple than Emperor's Sargon II's locks, but still existed. Most notably, Homer described a key that moved a bolt in a poem called The Odyssey.

The Romans improved upon the Greek's bolt-work by encasing the locks with iron and using iron or bronze for the key. It would not be uncommon for locksmiths to create intricate designs for the keys they created so the keys could be worn as jewelry since most Romans wore toga's without pockets.

Lock security did not improve for many centuries. In Europe, most of the changes came in the design of the key and locks, with little changes to the Roman's core principle.

That changed in 1778 when Robert Barren added the pin tumbler principle to wards for increased security. He used six tumblers that had to be lifted to the right height in order for the lock to open. It prevented the use of small objects to easily open the lock.

In 1798 Joseph Bramah improved upon the design by suggesting that the tumblers be made uneven so that the key could not be easily replicated based on the lock and only a master locksmith would be able to unlock the mystery of the lock.

Jeremiah Chubb created a lock that was a major improvement for locksmiths. It was tested by renown thieves and locksmiths and no one could pick it. That was until 1851, when an American locksmith picked it in less than half an hour.

All though technology marches forward, many of the core principles that we use in the locksmith industry are built upon the principles laid forth by these early locksmiths.