Posted on June 5th, 2009 1 comment
Locks are designed as a bolt-action mechanism requiring precise conditions to unlock. The conditions are usually met by a key or code being inserted into the lock. Locks have changed drastically throughout history. They have ranged from skeleton key padlocks all the way to computerized password coded locks used today.
China is given credit for the origin of locks because ancient Chinese locks have been found throughout the region. Egypt holds the other most ancient lock known. It is thought to have been in use over 4,000 years ago.
In 18th century Europe, the lock was simplified into a bolt-and-spring pressure system. This type of lock had a fairly intricate, but easily manipulated, unlocking system. A skeleton key would pass through several chambers before the item would unlock. The lock could easily be picked by using a blank key and sending it through the chambers.
Jeremiah Chubb was the most successful and popular locksmith in his time. He created the “detector lock” which prohibited anyone from tampering with it. If an attempt to pick the lock or use the wrong key in the lock occurred, the lock would become inoperable until the owner used a special regulating key to reconfigure it. His invention grew to be popular not only for personal locks, but also for use in bank safes and on other high-theft articles, such as museum artifacts.
Chubb’s indestructible lock system was defeated by a professional lock picker, Alfred Charles Hobbs. He learned how locks worked and then easily manipulated them. His method of picking locks was known as “tickling” the lock.
Throughout the centuries, different locking mechanisms have been developed. Older locks were created so all levers within the mechanism would move to one side when a key was inserted. Once this was realized, lock pickers could easily manipulate a lock and break into whatever it was they were after. A newer version was created to avoid this easy manipulation. Keys have unique designs on each side of them which make different levers within the lock move in opposite directions.