We are all in love with our possessions and would do many out of the ordinary things to protect them. Even if we do not go the extreme, we will at least put in place some security mechanism. This can be seen in the ancient history as well.
Traditional mechanisms mainly consist of mechanical locks. Many believe that the concept of mechanical locks originated from the civilizations in Egypt. The earliest known lock in the Egyptian civilization had been made of wood.
The historians are of the view that Greeks and Romans may also have invented locks in the same era as the Egyptians and the Romans are credited with the invention of iron locks which were so much stronger than the locks used by the other civilizations. Moreover, the smaller keys which can be carried around easily were also invented by the Romans.
In addition to the simple locks with one key, the Romans developed locks which needed multiple keys, locks with fake key holes and combination locks. Yes, combination locks are nothing new! However, the modern combination lock was invented by Linus, Jr., whose father is credited with many inventions in the field of locking mechanisms.
The yale lock, for example, was invented by Linus, Sr. in 1848. This was a pin tumbler lock; i.e. a lock which uses pins of different lengths to prevent the lock from opening without the correct key. Notwithstanding how fascinating this sounds, breaking this type of a lock is not that difficult.
The ease of breaking them is the main disadvantage in the traditional locks. However, it should be noted that the probability of a traditional mechanical lock opening with the wrong key or not opening with the right key is much lower than the modern electronic locks.
The traditional locks, such as the disc tumbler lock which is also known as the assa abloy in Hong Kong lock in reference to its manufacture, are known to be high security locks which are quite difficult to pick.
The present day locks mainly consist of electronic devices and mechanisms. The most common modern locks include a key pad or a touch screen for typing in a PIN. There are other varieties of locks which may require a biometric identification such as a finger print (if you are extremely security conscious, you may consider a biometric such as a retina scan), Bluetooth, etc.
However, the biggest catch in an electronic lock as opposed to the traditional mechanical lock is how it would function during a power failure. That is why many electronic locks come with a mechanical function as well.
Another common issue with modern locks, especially the ones which use bio metrics such as fingerprint is that they tend to give false positives or false negatives. A false positive is an intruder is recognized as an authorized person and access is granted and a false negative is when an authorized person is denied access.
All in all, when it comes to locks it is apparent that there has not been much development; we have been improving on the techniques which were there for centuries but only a few companies have actually invested in research and development of this field.