You might have seen those old heavy metal locks with engravings surrounding the keyhole, but that kind isn’t the first lock to exist. The Ancient Assyrian Lock existed in 600 BC and the key has been described as a pronged, large, and made out of solid wood. The shape of this wooden key was made in a way so that it is able to lift a number of pins that go into the right spot so that the bolts are able to slide open. The Assyrian locking mechanism is quite similar to what we have today except instead of a large pronged key, we have smaller ones with engraved shapes for easy turn and access.
Medieval European keys are ones that we are more familiar with due to its long thin shape and perhaps some added decoration at the base. However, the locking mechanism hasn’t changed much since the start of the Assyrian locking system. Not much has changed until the 1680’s where locks were considered a marvel to have. The John Wilkes’ Detector Lock has an even more sophisticated lock mechanism. The design of John Wilkes’ lock has a musketeer engraved on the metal surface with the keyhole located beneath its raised foot. In order to raise the spring, you’ll need the tilt the musketeer’s hat and slide its leg to find the keyhole.
From then, locks have gone quite complex over the years before reaching the standard lock and key that we all know today. For instance, the Bramah lock in 1784 was considered to be the first lock commercially produced as a store product to enhance security. The company even had a lock challenge and offered 200 Guineas to the first guest who could successfully break it.
Now, physical and digitized keys are available for everyone easily. But nothing really beats having a physical key and lock at hand from many of your regular key smiths.