When was the first lock invented?

Lock and key - the long way to security

When exactly the first lock was invented can hardly be answered with certainty, probably around 5000 BC. Chr.

The latch - inside and outside

The forerunner of the door lock is the simple bolt that can be used to lock a door from the inside. However, if you wanted to protect your belongings in your absence, a bolt had to be mounted on the door from the outside. So that it could not be opened easily, the bolt was built into a housing in which a movable bolt fell into a recess in the bolt when it was closed from above, blocking it. Only a key made of wood or bone, inserted into the lock, could lift this bolt again. The first improvements were models with two or more bolts or locking pins. Around 2500 BC The Hittite castles moved from the outside of the door to the inside of the door. In addition, the first keys made of metal were made, which were not only more durable, but also more precisely fitting.

Antique locking systems

In Greece, in principle, as with today's simple door locks, the bolt was moved by turning an angled key, which reached into the recesses of the bolt and had to be applied several times. In the first century AD, the Romans began to make not only the key, but also the lock and bolt from iron or bronze. The locking pins were also fixed by metal springs, which could only be moved by pressing when turning the key, thus releasing the bolt. The fact that locks were not only used to protect property, but also to detain lawbreakers, is shown by finds from earlier handcuffs with a U-lock in a fortress near K├╝nzing from the third century.


1778: Robert Barron invents a lock in which several tumblers have to be unlocked using a key.

1818: Jeremiah Chubb multiplies the locking devices of the lock, which increases security enormously.

1848: Linus Yale develops his first cylinder lock.

1974: Magnetic cards are used as room keys for the first time in a hotel in the USA.