Car Key Origins: From Crank To Click

Auto Locksmith

The Evolution of the Car Key

In 1769, the French inventor, Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, introduced the first automobile to the world.

Ever since then, cars have continued to evolve at a remarkable rate.

You might think that car keys have accompanied cars all along, but that’s a little inaccurate.

Car keys, along with auto locksmith services, only saw the light of day in the late 1940’s.

So what’s the story of cars and keys? Read on to find out.

Early Cars Had no Keys

This might come as a shock, but older cars had no keys to speak of. In the early years of the last century, many used to chain their vehicles to lampposts in order to secure them. Back in the day as well, to start your car’s engine, you needed to manually crank up the engine.

But this had its drawbacks.

With engines getting bigger and more powerful, rotating a lever to start your car proved inconvenient, even dangerous. In turn, this made way for the electric starter, a small motor driven with a high enough voltage to start the engine.

A Step closer to a Car Key

In addition to the electric starter, the early decades of the twentieth century featured others types of starters, such as spring motors and air starter motors. The driver was able to operate those starters by pressing a button on the dashboard or the floor. Alternatively, a few cars had pedals to engage the starter by foot.

The advent of button-operated starters meant an easier, safer way of starting your car. It also was an important step that made keyed operation a realistic possibility.

Chrysler’s Innovative Invention

In 1949, Chrysler, the automobile manufacturer, introduced the world to the first key-operated combination ignition-starter switch.

This was huge!

What we take for granted today was such a celebrated accomplishment when it first came out, a milestone in cars’ history. Moreover, without this invention, an auto locksmith would have no business.

After the avant-garde innovation, the car key, the automotive industry kept on advancing. Consequently, keys evolved significantly. Nowadays, modern car key is no longer a piece of metal; instead, it’s a tiny, electronic device that you can use to open, lock and start your car.

From Keyless to Keyless

Present day car key types include transponder key, smart key, and even valet key.

But there’s more.

Remember how earlier cars had no keys? These days, latest car models feature keyless entry and operation.

Truth be told, this is a bit amusing, maybe even a little ironic.

What’s more amusing is that one day, we might not even need a car key. Instead, a mobile app will open and start the car.

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