It is believed that locksmithing started around 4000 years ago in ancient Egypt and Babylon. At the time locks were not as complex as they are now. They were made of wood and relatively large, though they were used in similar way as modern locks are used. The large key was put into the lock and moved upwards to unlock.
The idea of lock and key spread throughout Rome, ancient Greece and even to China. In Rome, the keys were often used by the wealthy to lock their valuables and wrap the key on their fingers like a ring. Oftentimes this symbolized status. Click automotive locks to learn how locksmiths can help with your car.
Later in 870-900 AD the first metal locks began to appear. These happened courtesy of English craftsmen. Locks made of brass became widespread over Europe and even to China. There was a rise in achievements made by locksmiths in the 14th to the 16th centuries. Locks were made with best designs for the nobility.
Advancements in metal industry led to production of more secure and durable locks and keys by locksmiths. Initially, advancements were only centered on the artistic nature but little effort was made to improve the lock mechanism.
The industrial age greatly revolutionized the locksmithing profession. Sophistication and the complexity of locks were magnified.
Robert Barron through his work on improving the lever tumbler lock in 1778 made it more sophisticated and secure. The lock required that the lever be lifted to a certain height, failure of which the lock will not have unlocked. This kind of lock is still used in some parts of London.
The Chubb detector lock was another key developmental milestone in the locksmithing profession. Jeremiah Chubb made this kind of lock which made it hard for anyone to pick it and more importantly it indicated whenever someone tampered with it.
He formed a company which came up with a lock that made it hard for anyone to see the levers and involved using six instead of four levers.
In 1784, Joseph Bramah made locks that employed round keys. The metal slides in the lock had to be displaced to a certain position for the lock to open. At the time it was hard to pick such locks. The double-acting pin tumbler lock was another important achievement. Similar design made by Linus Yale used numerous pins making the lock only be opened by the right key. He invented a key with serrated edge that is still in use today.
However, in the modern locks specialization has been a requisite for locksmiths though, knowledge in woodwork, metalwork among other areas is also important.