Who Invented The Lock | The History Of Locks And Keys

Lock SafeguardThere may be no written records who invented the lock and if we think about that time’s situation, can realize- that circumstances couldn’t provide the chance to write or remember the inventor.

In the history of locks and keys, for the reason that we provided before, there is no evidence to suggest about the inventor of locks and keys.

Still, now we’re failed to descover.

But wait, no need to worry.

Now, we have found after doing research more and more in the history books of locks and different all websites, they give credit to the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks with inventing the oldest known types of locks.

Astonished to see one more country?

Yeah, it’s an amazing sound, you should pause here to know details.

In today’s article, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about the history of locks, history of keys and the origin of locks and keys. 

Offtopic: In this site, we do the review about the best smart door locks, best padlocks, and the best bike locks.

You’ll get everything you need to know about the locks and locksmithing.


What is Lock?

You’re here to know about the history of locks, we think at first, should describe the definition of lock that can present the proper and unique summary of it.

Everybody knows what a lock is, don’t they?.

Actually, most people have a general understanding of locks, they know all about it and even they all use it, but that understanding is often limited to the few models. Because we have not found all models of locks, and not necessary to use all.

You agree with us, we think.

Really have you used all locks or are you using many locks to protect your house?

Your answer is NO, so not neccessary to know the definition of the lock to use it, right?

Without being a locksmith, it is not possible for us to know everything about locks. We don’t get precise lock’s definition from many general consumer books and articles about locks because of lack of their exact information, believe it or not, but it’s true.

We aren’t pleased to share that most of the time, most of the non-locksmiths always writes the definition of locks, for that, we get narrow, broad or outdated understanding from them.

Now from the beginning of this article, you are going to learn you need to know about the precise lock definition from the locksmiths and popular dictionaries.

Then you are going to dive into the history of locks and keys from the beginning to this time now.   

Ready to go?

At first, we would like to say, need not know the definition of the lock to buy! sounds good, isn’t it? 

Just go to any lock shop and buy a lock without knowing the history, definition and creating mechanism.

Now, the moment is here!

Stephen Tchudi, a University of Nevada, English professor had spent more time on research to figure out what a lock is and he succeeded to do it. He wrote in his book, “A lock, after all, is simply a barrier or closer, a way of selling up an entryway, of keeping what you want in, in, what you want out, out”.

He also said, “A stick or doorstop that you wedge under a door – is also a lock, though, again, not a reliable or unpickable one”.

We have known the definition of locks from the famous locksmith Stephen Tchudi. Now we try to find out from popular dictionaries what they say about it.

The Random House Dictionary of the English language, says a lock is, “A device for securing a door, gate, lid, drawer, or the like in position when closed, consisting of a bolt or a system of bolts, propelled and withdrawn by a mechanism operated by a key, dial, etc.”.

Webster’s third new International Dictionary says a lock is, “A fastening  (as for a door, box, trunk, lid, drawer) in which a bolt is secured by any of various mechanisms and can be released by inserting and turning a key or by operating a special device (as a combination, time lock, automatic release button, magnetic solenoid)”

What is lock?Most of the time, we have found many types of definition of locks and heard the common definition many times, that is, “locks are all things that hold, hide, fasten, or bite”

Those dictionary definitions are much better than this type of definition.

Now here is a more precise definition of the lock, that is given by the International Association of Home Safety and Security Professionals. They said, “A device that incorporates a bolt, cam, shackle or switch to secure an object – such as a door, drawer or machine – to a closed, opened, locked, off or on position, and that provides a restricted means of releasing the object from that position”.

Want to make up a definition about lock?. If you try to do it you should ask yourself three things about it:

  1. Does your definition include padlocks?
  2. Does it include car ignition locks?
  3. And does it exclude a chair wedged under a doorknob?

If your answer is, ‘YES’, you are perfect!

You the only man who has the capability to provide the definition of locks.

The History Of Locks And Keys

There is no way to give an answer in one word to this question, ‘Who invented the lock?’ or ‘Who invented the key?’.

It’s a common question, but its answer is not too short. In one word, we can not give you the right and precise answer.

So, If you want to know about the history of locks and keys properly and want to get the right answer, you have to spend more times on this page.

The history of locks and keys

Egyptians’ Contribution

The archaeologist in the mid-19th century wanted to say about the history of locks and keys that,  the first locks and keys were invented by Mesopotamian people some 6000 years ago. They found the sign to spread it.

May be the were right, believe it?

To the last of this article, will get a clear idea to believe it. 

Actually, the oldest known lock was found in 1842 in the ruins of Emperor Sargon 2’s place in Khorsabad, in the modern day in Iraq.

When the area would have been the Mesopotamian Kingdom of Assyria. It was dated to be about 4000 to 6000 years old.

And the principle of the locking mechanism of ancient Egyptian’s locks that are used by many of today’s most popular locks.

The Egyptian lock consisted of three basic parts:

1. A wood crossbeam.
2. A vertical beam with tumblers.
3. A large wooden key.

Greeks’ Contribution                         

Most early Greek doors pivoted at the center and secured with a rope tied in a complex joint, and it wan an amazing lock mechanism to protect the wealth. When more security was needed, doors were secured bolts from the inside.

We can know about the locks and keys of Greece in the famous poetry book written by the great poet Homer in about 800 B.C.E. He said in his book,

“She went upstairs and got the storeroom key, which was made of bronze and had a handle of ivory, she then went with her Maidens into the storeroom at the end of the house, where her husband’s treasures of gold, bronze, and wrought iron were kept……. She loosed the strap from the handle of the door, put in the key, and drove it straight home to shoot back the bolts that held the doors.”
That actually means they used to protect their valuable wealth from the thieves by ancient mechanism of lock.
But no way to give the credit to Greeks for inventing the lock and key.

who invented the lock

Romans’ Contribution

Other archaeologists want to say, the Romans brought the improvement upon of the Ancient Egyptian design.

They say also, the mechanism of locks and keys spread from Egypt to Greece and eventually to the Roman Empire.

Actually, the Romans improved on the lock design in many ways.

Their keys were made of Iron and bronze, that was ornately designed to be worn as jewelry.

Enough rich Romans would wear their keys as rings on their fingers or as a necklace using sting.

Do you want to know why they wore keys as rings or necklace?
The answer is ridiculous and laughable. They didn’t have pockets!

Another reason has, that is- the rich people showed off their wealth to wear keys as rings or a necklace, so that other patrician would know, they were very wealthy people.

Bill Phillips- the author of ‘The Complete Book Of Lock and Locksmithing‘ say,

The Romans are sometimes credited with inventing the padlock, but that’s controversial. There is evidence that the Chinese may have independently invented it before or about the same time. The demand for locks declined after the fall of Rome, in the fifth century, because people had little property to protect. The few locks used during the period were specially ordered for nobility and the handful of wealthy merchants.”

Remarks-Who invented the lock?

After reading this article, if you ask us, ‘when was the lock invented?’, ‘When was the key invented?’ We’ll say about 6000 years ago. And as a researcher of the history of locks and keys, we will also say in one word about the inventor of the first lock and key is, ‘Egypt’. The Mesopotamian people invented the locks and keys first. Then its mechanism spread from Egypt to Greece and Roam.
Want to judge me?
Search again in google to have this answer.
 Now, you are going to learn everything about the history of locks and keys of modern days. Let’s do that.

Europe’s Contribution

During the middle ages, metal workers and the locksmith in England, Germany, and France continued to make the warded lock, with no significant security changes but they did it as an art. They brought improvements upon the previous locks, so, the mechanism of these was the same and they focused on making ornately designed for people to wear. At that time locks became works of art.

England’s Contribution

Three Englishmen:  Robert Barron, Joseph Bramah, and Jeremiah Chubb were in the forefront of lock designing history in England.

In 1778, a double-acting tumbler lock was patented by Robert Barron.
In 1784, another Englishman Joseph Bramah patented the lock of his own name, ‘Bramah Lock’.
And In 1888, the great and famous Englishmen Jeremiah Chubb patented his detector lock. It won him a reward offered by the government of England.

history of locks and keys

Americans’ Contribution

During American early years, England had a policy against skilled artisans, because in that time they had a power resulting in that experts could not compete with them for that the locks made by early Americans locksmiths didn’t sell well.
At that time, in the mid – 1700s few colonists used door lock to secure home and truly speaking, they brought a new level of security to protect home and prevent theft.
Most of them were copied from European models, yeah, it’s true. When the country settled, industry progressed and improved, urbanization established, increasing the demand for more and better locks, the locksmiths of America soon greatly improved on the previous models of England and Europe and were making the most innovation locks and bringing the new level of security in the world those now we are using.
In 1933, Chicago Lock Company invented a tubular key lock, named the Chicago Ace Lock. It was designed by the pin tumbler mechanism but used circular keyway. The growing reputation and improved mechanism of it, many locksmiths referred to all tubular key locks as “Ace Locks” for a long time.
Mechanical Development Company brought high-security mechanical locks in 1967, with the introduction of the Medeco high-security cylinder. That was the great Innovation and most dependable and demandable locks. The high-security mechanical cylinders were made by Roy C. Spain and his team and named as ‘Medeco’ that was based on the first two letters of each word of the name of their company – Mechanical Development Company.
In 1805, Abraham O. Stansbury, an American physician was granted an English patent for a pin tumbler lock that was based on the principles of both Egyptian and Bramah locks. After two years of patent. The design was granted as a first lock patent in American history by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
In 1836, a New Jersey Locksmith, Soloman Andrews, developed a lock that had adjustable tumblers and keys, which allowed the owners to rekey the lock anytime.
In the 1850s two inventors, Andrews and Newell patented an important and new feature lock, removable tumblers that could be disassembled and assembled.
At the same time, In 1848, Linus Yale, Sr. invented a pin tumbler lock.
After that Linus Yale, Jr. improved upon his father’s lock in 1861.
In 1916, Samuel Segal, a former New York City police officer, invented the Jimmyproof rim lock.
In 1920, Frank E. Best received his first patent for an interchangeable core lock.
In 1928, Walter Schlage patented a cylindrical lock that incorporates a locking mechanism between the two knobs.

Early American lock Company

The English lock maker Stephen G. Bucknall made about 100 cabinet lock in 1832 and was also the first trunk and cabinet manufacturer in America but didn’t sell well his products for some reasons. In 1835 Bucknall received financial assistance from the major investors, Mackee to form the first trunk lock company in America. But a couple years later, Bucknell had to sell the business and joint North and  Stanley Company.
The Eagle lock Company was one of the greatest successes and failures lock company in America, was formed in 1854 and touched the top level of business in American history. In 1922 The Eagle Lock Company had 1800 employees and several large warehouses. But in 1974, The Lori Corporation bought the Eagle lock equipment at a public auction for losing a bid to the Lori Corporation for a large order for cylinders for the U.S. Postal Service.


It is not easy to say in one word, who invented the locks and keys. When it was invented, the inventor of locks and keys did not realize that one day it would be the subject of research, would be a fact of knowing to the people of globalization. For that reason, now we have to credit as the inventor to all of them.
3. www.historyofkeys.com

2 thoughts on “Who Invented The Lock | The History Of Locks And Keys

  1. The founder of our company, Aarón Fish, was the inventor of the ubiquitous push button lock in the 1970’s, a product that still exists today. For those interested he has established a Museum of Locks in his factory in Montreal which hosts an incredible collection of locking devices dating back to 3000 b.c. The company, Capitol Industries Inc., offers private guided viewings to locksmith schools and security organizations alike. To schedule a tour contact them through their website at info@capitolindustries.com

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