One day, on her way back home from school, eight-year-old Simran found a unique stone on the roadside – an oval-shaped purple colour stone covered in mud. Immediately, she picked it up and wiped off the mud, and out came a genie!
Simran squealed, “It’s a magic stone!” She carefully put in her bag and walked home. Deciding on testing the stone again that night, she kept it safely inside her drawer in the study. That night, Simran patiently waited for her parents to go to bed. Once everyone was asleep, she tiptoed into her study and slowly opened the drawer.
And the stone was gone!
Where did it go? Who took it? Was it her friend Geeta, who always fish into her drawer for chocolates and crayons? If only Simran had locked her drawer?
That night Simran learned two valuable lessons – to be extra careful with her valuables and to always lock her cupboards and drawers. But was there always a set of locks to keep valuable things safe? Who invented them? How have they evolved?
This month, in #TheEvolutionofEverything, let’s look at the evolution of locks.
The Assyrians were ahead of their time when it came to locks. They invented the prototype of the pin tumbler wooden lock 4000 years ago. The world’s first key was discovered in the palace of Khorsabad. Then, the Egyptians replaced the wooden structure of the lock with brass. They began the practice of locking their houses. Though this relatively secure mechanism spread across the ancient world, it failed to impress the west.
The Romans went a step ahead and made locks with metals. This helped them make locks and keys in intricate shapes. This also gave birth to the trend of wearing keys as lockets and rings! It was a fashion among the wealthy to flaunt their riches by wearing ornamental keys.
During the middle ages, the trend of lock picking became fairly common. As a result, the design of the lock and key became more and more complex. Some European countries made strict rules for locksmiths that keys could only be made in daylight.
In 1784, an English inventor and locksmith Joseph Bramah came up with a pick-proof lock. This was a huge hit in Britain, only to be challenged by English lock and safe manufacturer Jeremiah Chubb. He designed locks with the unique feature of locks getting jammed when opened with the wrong key.
In 1865, American lock manufacturer Linus Yale Jr. came up with the idea of locks attached to the door. Perhaps, the most significant change in the design of the modern key was patented by him. As a result, the keys became much smaller and thinner.
Then came the age(1950s) of electronic keys. Used wisely in hotels, offices, and universities, some keys rely on biometric scans of retinas and thumbprints. Using Bluetooth radio and touch sensors, keys have been replaced by smartphones! These locks still have a physical key for emergencies. Designed in ways that have made it almost impossible to hack, this technology has made it possible to have the same digital key to different locks.
Locks are considered to be one of the most genius innovations man has ever created. Though there have been many variations in the style, design, and mechanism of locks, you may still find doors in rural India using the traditional kundi locks.
Tell us below in the comments if you know of any other type of locks.
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