Locks have been in existence almost as long as they have been in need. The earliest known lock dates back to Niveeveh, Egypt B.C. This crude lock that was found among the ruins of the Khorasabad Palace is a fore-runner of today’s modern pin-tumbler lock. Movable pins that dropped onto a crossbar when engaged by a key created a very secure lock. This is called the Egyptian Door Lock due to its popularity in Egypt.
The Greeks, although not as successfully, created their own locking mechanism as well. This lock comprised of a wooden bolt and staple device that was operated by a crescent shaped key. The lock provided some security but The Romans were a bit more triumphant in their locking endeavors. They improved the Egyptian style lock and fabricated the mechanism out of metal. These locks not only were functional but often had ornate details and artistry making the locks both a security system as well as a work of art.
The Romans continued to improve notched boltwork ventures of the Greeks and developed a mechanism that resembles the Warded Lock of today. This lock utilized a key that had slots which correspond to obstructions within the lock, allowing the correct key to rotate freely, and disengage the lock. Similar types of lock designs were Divine Locks developed in China as well and by the Middle Ages the Warded lock had spread across Europe. Blacksmiths who specialized in locking mechanisms began to coin the term locksmith which had become its own profession.
In the Eighteenth century prizes were awarded to those who could pick open new and complex locks. This motivated locksmiths to create more secure locks. Robert Barron, Joseph Bramah, and Jeremiah Chubb all of England led the new industry of locksmithing. Locksmiths emerged in the Americas and slight improvements were made.
Up until the 1930’s the actual configuration of locks had changed very little. By the 1940’s and with the onset of WWII many locksmiths were drafted and therefore little invention and advancements were made in lock security. Today the profession of a Locksmith encompasses much more than its predecessors. A locksmith needs to be able to understand key id and lock mechanisms, residential locks and keymaking, home and business security, panic hardware and electric locks, and electronic security. Some states require a formal education or the completion of an apprenticeship as well as a license in order to practice.