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21st-Century Advancements for the Interchangeable Core

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The lock and key may seem like a simple mechanism. But recent technological advances have brought physical keyed security far ahead of its historical origins. In this article, we will take a look back at the early beginnings of the lock and key, and then we will explain several recent advancements that you should consider when evaluating your lock and key program.

Locks: A Brief History

The history of the lock and key dates back thousands of years to ancient civilizations such as Egypt and Mesopotamia. The first locks were simple wooden mechanisms that required a wooden key to operate. In ancient Egypt, locks were often made of wood and consisted of a series of pins that could be lifted by the correct key. The keys were often made of wood or metal and were typically quite large and elaborate.

Over time, locksmiths began to experiment with new mechanisms and materials such as steel and brass, which allowed them to create even more complex and secure locks. In the 19th century, the invention of the pin tumbler lock by Linus Yale Jr. revolutionized the lock industry.

For the humble lock and key, the next major advancement happened in 1928 with the invention of the interchangeable (IC) core. Prior to that time, locksmiths had to remove the entire lock and replace it with a new one if the lock’s key had been lost or stolen, or if a key holder’s access had to be revoked. This was a time-consuming and expensive process that often required a skilled locksmith to complete. The IC core allowed for a much more efficient and cost-effective solution to lock replacement.

The interchangeable core consists of a small, self-contained lock that can be easily removed and replaced with a new one using a special key. This meant that locksmiths could quickly and easily rekey a lock without having to disassemble it. IC cores are still widely used in commercial and institutional settings, where security and access control are paramount.

The User-Rekeyable IC Core

The lock and key industry has continued to evolve, with the development of user-rekeyable cores in the 1980s by InstaKey. This innovation was a response to the ongoing challenges posed by interchangeable cores, namely the need for a replacement core for each lock that required rekeying.

Rekeyable cores represent a significant advancement, as they allow for locks to be rekeyed without the assistance of a locksmith. This eliminates the need to store replacement cores in bulk and manage the process of sending new cores and keys which simplifies the process of rekeying locks. While the implementation of interchangeable and rekeyable cores may be more expensive initially, the long-term benefits in terms of time and cost savings are considerable, especially for retail companies or large commercial organizations with multiple sites to manage and high personnel turnover.

Restricted Keys

Lock and key technology has continued to advance, but the way they are managed and controlled has also required innovation. After installation, many key systems quickly become unmanageable as keys can be duplicated without authorization. Restricted keys were developed to address this issue.

By uniquely serializing and tracking restricted keys in cloud-based key tracking software, key control becomes much easier, more secure, and cost-effective. This is particularly important for large commercial businesses with multiple sites, where key control can become time-consuming and expensive. Implementing an effective and easily managed key control system can help avoid the headache of managing key core replacements and keeping track of who has keys to what.

While locks and keys may go back thousands of years, recent technological improvements can make your key control system more secure and cost-effective. Talk to an expert at InstaKey and learn how we can help you bring your physical keyed security into the 21st century.

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