Do you know what material was used to create the first locks? Do you know who invented the first automatic door bolt? Do you know how Cothron's got its start? Our latest blog post covers this and more
Locks and keys have been around for thousands of years, and the history associated with the industry and some of its main players is fascinating. From early wooden locks and the reasoning behind certain security features to famous locksmiths and family-owned businesses, read on to learn 10 neat facts about the world of locksmiths.
1. Locks have been around for more than 6,000 years, as an early version was found at Nineveh, the capital of ancient Assyria. These security features started out with carved wooden designs and became more advanced in the 18th century, due to metal works.
2. Famed escape artist Harry Houdini was a locksmith, and Nick Hoffman, the chief curator at The History Museum at the Castle (previously The Houdini Historic Center), spoke on the topic. "This bobby pin from his collection has clearly been adjusted, bent open, and maybe he was using it to sort of practice an escape. So this is just a really, really neat thing to see…this manipulated bobby pin to pick a lock." Hoffman continued, saying, "One of the things he loved to do is palm the keys to make some sort of lock pick. So he would put some sort of clay in his hands and then very carefully, when he had the key, push it down into his palm and then that clay would take the form of the key and then he could have his carpenters and other assistants make a pick."
3. Linus Yale Sr. opened a lock shop in the 1840s, leading to the creation of a pin tumbler lock. His son, Linus Yale Jr., joined him, enhanced the design, patented the Yale cylinder lock, and then started Yale & Towne in 1868.
4. In 1857, James Sargent started the James Sargent Lock Company and went on to provide the U.S. Treasury Department with safe locks and to invent products like the first time lock for bank vaults.
5. Originally, Samuel Segal was a police officer, which led to the original Segal lock in 1912, as a way to help protect people from "jimmying" doors open.
6. In the early 1920s, the Master Lock Company was established by Harry Soref, known for his laminated steel-cased lock patent.
7. The first automatic door bolt was created by William F. Banham in 1926, due to break-ins he and his wife experienced. After that, he started up his own company – which later became Banham Security – and agreed to pay people £25 if they could pick his new lock.
8. Cothron’s was founded by Mr. Olen Cothron in 1948, and it started out as a small kiosk on Congress Avenue. Today, the company is one of Central Texas' premier security providers and is still family owned and operated: Olen’s son, Steve, serves as the CEO; Steve’s children, Angela and Andy, are head of accounting and high security, respectively; Angela’s husband, Daniel Powers, is the brand’s operations manager; and Daniel’s cousin, Vanessa Len Herrera, is the dispatch supervisor. There are several parents/children and siblings (not related to the Cothrons) that are employed by this business, too!
9. As a leader in locksmithing and security, did you know that Cothron's also makes and sells custom tools? These can be used for installing latches, swing bolts, locksets, paddles, and levers, as well as for opening door knobs and lever sets.
10. Many think locksmiths just help people get into their locked cars and houses. While that is certainly part of the job, services go far beyond this. Cothron's, in particular, provides:
--a wide range of commercial doors and frames, with a specialized crew that tackles everything from new installation and construction to remodels, repairs, and replacements.
--safes of all types, which can be delivered, installed, rented, serviced, and repaired.
--electronic security options ranging from alarms and video surveillance cameras to keyless entry and employee access.
--a hardware counter with supplies like keys, mechanical & electrical door hardware, and door frames.
--locksmithing, which – in addition to lockouts – includes rekeys, lock replacements, door realignments, installations of exit devices, door closers, fire-rated hardware & automatic door openers, and much more.
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Locksmith News & Security Blog
As Austin's oldest and most trusted locksmith and security company, Cothron's provides industry updates and resources through its blog.