Locksmiths: a 4,000 year-old profession


Let’s imagine a world without locks.

Your front door would always be open to welcome ‘uninvited visitors’ from time to time. Banks would be so accessible and more vulnerable than ever. Security guards would become the highest paying jobs. Department store staff would be awake 24/7 to readily keep an eye on every customer. CCTV cameras would appear everywhere with wide-awake operators observing suspicious behaviors. On weekends, people would spend more time visiting the police stations than chilling at pubs, hanging out with friends or simply sleeping at home. What an insecure world it would become without locks!

However, have you ever wondered how the lock was invented and how locksmiths have evolved over the centuries into the professional service they represent now?


The very first concept of locks was invented 4,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt and Babylon where wooden devices were utilized with tin tumbler principle to block free movements of door bars. More complex invention was found in Assyria in 704 BC. By inserting a huge toothbrush shaped key and pushing internal metal pins straight up within the wooden locking devices, they were moved to unlock doors. Nowadays, modern locks are inspired by those movements and function in a similar method.


The adoption of advanced metallurgy in the 18th century in Europe enabled locksmiths to create more concrete locks and keys. Locksmiths became a recognizable trend and blossomed during this period. The term “locksmiths” originated from “blacksmith”. During this time, most battle gear for knights and horses was made by blacksmiths. However, those blacksmiths who specialized in making locks and keys from small metal parts and pieces were called “locksmiths” in that era.

EARLY 1900’s

Security concerns were the main reason that the locksmiths’ business grew significantly in the early 1900’s. Locksmiths was considered as a sophisticated process and those who made locks were called craftsmen. Locksmiths used to be traditional family businesses passed down from generation to generation. Highly skilled locksmiths crafted lock designs which looked very similar to modern-day locks.


During the First World War, advanced metallurgy enabled more innovative inventions to be utilized for industrial purposes. The Post Type cutter was invented for manufacturers in automotive industry and padlock was also created for cabinets. Later on, the industrial revolution also had great impacts on locksmiths for locks were mass-produced and shipped globally for commercial and personal uses. The locksmiths’ profession evolved into two specializations of lock repairmen and locksmiths.


Locks today are more secure than ever with the aid of innovative technologies and emerging trends in digital security systems. Modern locksmiths have a long history to be proud of and the locksmiths’ profession has emerged considerably to reach its current advanced state. Being a locksmith requires great skills, professionalism and competence.
Melbourne City Locksmiths takes pride in our reliable and professional service which always complies with the high standards of this respectful profession. So next time you have an emergency, remember the 4,000 years of locksmiths history and contact our friendly team to put your mind at ease.