The first locks were made out of ropes, and looked totally different from today’s lock technology. They first originated in the Mesopotamian kingdom of Assyria, and converse to this advancement, the Egyptians invented the first mechanical lock, a pin tumbler made of wood. Between then and now, there’s been a massive variety of locks invented, with many different particular structures and functionality. Here’s a brief guide to them, as prepared by the lock history experts at Chicago Locksmiths.
These locks require a sequence of numbers to be turned in either one or multiple dials. Usually, single dial locks that revolve are more secure than toggling multi dial locks that are often used in briefcases. This type of lock are sort of easy to crack in any case, since they have been around since the mid 19th century.
These padlocks require a key to be opened, and while some of them can be rekeyed, many of them can not. If you lose the key, the shackle will need to be cut or picked.
TSA Approved Locks
When you’re flying inside the USA, the TSA has approved a series of padlocks that can secure your luggage, but are supposed to only be accessible through a key that TSA agents carry. However, these are really not as secure as they might want you to think.
These locks are somewhat more secure than the usual standard spring lock, and can’t be opened unless a key is utilized to turn the lock cylinder. They are often used in homes and outside doors in combination with a slightly weaker lock for security.
Single Cylinder Deadbolts
These locks use a key on the outside and a thumbturn on the inside. They can have additional flip guards installed surrounding the thumbturn to prevent it from rotating when the guard is in place.
Double Cylinder Deadbolts
These are the more secure type of deadbolt. They require keys on the inside and outside of the locks, but can be a safety hazard in the event of an emergency that requires the quick exit of your home
Lockable Thumbturn Deadbolts
These deadbolts are recommended for locations that need maximum levels of security. They allow doors to be opened from both the inside and the outside. These can be considered somewhat of a hybrid between single and double cylinder locks.
Jimmy Proof Deadbolts
These deadbolts are usually found on double doors or in apartments. They have a strong, simple surface mount that’s easy to install, and the deadbolt in these interacts with the jamb bracket, making them extra impervious to excess force - especially compared to the normal deadbolt.
These locks are often combined in residential exterior doors with deadbolt locks. They are simple and not that secure since the cylinder is housed inside the knob rather than the door. These knobs can be easily taken off doors with hammers or even just a strong enough grip, making them only really a good choice for residential interior locks.
Lever Handle Locks
These locks are most commonly found in commercial locations, and on interior doors. Their lever can be rotated on a single side against a key cylinder, and are mor/e insecure than knob locks.
These are the type of locks that you most often see on ATMs or vending machines. When these locks are opened, it is physically removed from the device itself, making them incredibly replaceable and substitutable. These locks work with either dead latches or spring latches. Spring latches relock automatically as soon as the T handle is snapped back in place.
Other types of Cylinder Locks
These include mortise cylinders and rim cylinders - both slightly more secure than deadbolts, and both utilizing hybrid security technology. Mortise cylinders are side threaded and screw directly into mortise hardware that’s located inside the door. Rim cylinders, however, have extended tailpieces that stick from their backside through the door into the lock on the other side.
Interchangeable Core Cylinders
These locks are often used in business, school, or institutional settings as they are easy to replace without any complicated disassembly. These locks work with one of two kinds of keys. Standard operator keys are used to lock or unlock the lock, and control keys take the entire core of the cylinder out of the lock - allowing you to replace it by simply inserting a new core into the hardware. These locks are available in both small and large format interchangeable cores.
Rim Latch Locks
These locks are like rim cylinders, but contains latch on one side of the door with a latch lock on the other side. They can automatically lock when the door shuts - and are commonly utilized for this feature in apartment complexes. However, they are not meant to resist heavy force - so should always be combined with another stronger type of lock.
These low security locks are often found in filing cabinets or mailboxes. They are made of a base and a cam - the key is inserted in the base, and the cam acts as a latch tail.
Digital locks are used in cars and hotels, but now they are widely used in many security contexts. They range from taking everything from a swipe card to a code input. They are easy to rekey through simple programming, yet are somewhat vulnerable to hacking. Smart locks can be remotely controlled through dedicated smartphone applications wherever you might be located, making them a widely popular option for both residential and commercial settings.