the time man first had possessions, he has been looking for a means of
protecting those possessions. It is known that the cave man built a fire to
protect his cave entrance from animals who would steal his food. He would also
place religious statues in the entrance to protect the cave while he was off
hunting. The superstitious nature of the early cave man ensured that no one
would risk invoking the wrath of the god the statue represented by entering the
man became more civilized, superstition was not enough to keep other men from
entering his home while he was away. The door was invented and intricately tied
knots were used much like a padlock to secure it. Legend has it that one such
knot, (the Gordian Knot), survived until 333 BC when Alexander the Great loosed
it with his sword. This inherent lack of physical security, which Alexander the
Great demonstrated, probably led to the invention of the more substantial locks
that are still used today.
Romans and the Chinese are credited with the simultaneous invention of the
padlock. The Romans used a warded mechanism, and since their togas didn't have
pockets, developed keys which could be worn as rings. While many locks must have
been made of wood or iron and most were padlocks for chests, some of the bolts
and locks were made of bronze and have survived. The bolts had holes in them
that would only accept a key of the proper shape and many of the locks had
figural designs invoking that old protection of the Gods. These bolts, (see
figure 1), may be seen in some museums and many of the ring keys were made of
bronze and may be found in museums also.
shown in figure 1 is an example of the barbed spring typical of a Chinese
padlock. The key acted directly on the spring(s) which were formed to simulate
the effect of a fish hook when the lock was locked. Examples of this mechanism
have shown up in cultures throughout the world and are still actively used to
this day in some areas.
use of the word Padlock was established in the 1300ís in England.
Thieves in those days would follow behind wagons and coaches and ply
their trade. They were called
footpads and the lock that could stop them became known as a Padlock.
today are available with a variety of locking mechanisms ranging from the simple
ward to lever tumblers to pin tumblers or combinations and even
electronics. Any lock that is
portable is a padlock and great advances have been made in materials and design.
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