Scroll Top


The Evolution of Car Keys

The Evolution of Car Keys

You may already know to contact All Secured to replace a broken or lost automotive key, but do you know how car keys have evolved? People have long desired to secure their belongings, and the car key is just one manifestation of that desire. To speak of the evolution of the car key, the history of all keys must be taken into account. The last several centuries have seen radical changes in lock designs. Spurts of innovation were followed by relative silence. The creation of lever tumbler, pin tumbler, and warded locks were all landmark events that continue to impact modern car key designs today. What once was a simple object has taken on greater complexity and now serves multiple purposes: they start the ignition and may unlock side doors, trucks, glove compartments, and fuel filler caps. Below is a summary of important advancements leading up to the modern car key.

Pre-Car Evolution The first known key is from around 4000 BC. It was found near Nineveh, the capital of the former Assyrian empire. Egyptians built on this concept with a clever wooden lock known as the pin tumbler, which involved sliding pegs and a large hole-ridden bolt. Only the person with the proper tool could enter a door outfitted with this mechanism. Robert Barron created the first double-acting tumbler lock in 1778, with an arrangement of levers that must match the key. In 1784, Joseph Bramah invented a lock that was highly resistant to tampering and picking. James Sargent followed up in 1857 with a lock that could be rekeyed.

Post-Car Evolution Cars are constantly adapting to new security and lock technology. Several highlights are given here. Scripps-Rooth started using power door locks in 1914, but it was four decades until they became popular on luxury cars. Nowadays they are standard, with people pushing a button or turning a key to unlock all the doors. Ford added an external keypad system in the 1980s, which used a numerical combination and eliminated the need for physical keys. These are no longer in favor. Another keyless locking system uses radio frequencies to transmit a digital identification code when a button is pushed within a certain distance of a car. These are usually programed by the car manufacturer and have gained prominence since the 1980s. Smart keys work by automatically unlocking the car when the owner comes within range, or automatically unlocking it when sensors on the inside of door handles are touched. To prevent hot wiring, a device called an immobilizer was added to require a specific key containing a transponder chip to start the ignition. Transponder chips, which merge the names of transmitters and responders, interact directly with the engine control unit. When the ignition switch is turned, an electromagnetic coil is activated that sends a signal to the key. If the wrong signal is returned, then the engine does not start. Some cars use infrared beams to identify the correct key, Mercedes-Bens being one example. Yet another car key design is the switchable blade for smaller carrying size. Car keys are an important part of modern car ownership. Often times a basic key lock system will suffice, but as technology gets better there will be more advanced options available. For all your locksmith needs, All Secured is here to help.

Related Post

5 Tips for Securing Your Small Business in Columbus, OH

As a small business owner in Columbus, OH, protecting your company and its assets is a top priority. Unfortunately, small…

Best Business Security 2016

The nightmare of all business owners is walking to their storefront one morning and discovering shards of broken glass, stolen…