Openpath c

Approx. 6000 year old Egyptian locking systems 

The first prototype of magnetic stripe card created by IBM in the late 1960’s. A stripe of cellophane magnetic tape is fixed to a piece of cardboard with clear adhesive tape. This invention would then push magnetic strip cards to the forefront of access control in the beginning of the 21st Century.

By Jerome Svigals, CC BY 3.0,

The Magstripe card had been invented in the 1960s for data storage, like account information as a credit card but the unique ‘Key’ storage ability of the card wasn’t realised for another 20 years when Tor Sornes based in Norway offered a new Magstripe access control card that could be re-coded. The basis of todays’ Electronic Access Control had arrived, and readers began to be connected to door controllers, who were configured by a database of credentials, the user’s keys.

This now allowed systems to control who went where and when and stored the information for reporting. The introduction of the internet in the 1990’s also allowed door controllers in remote buildings, to communicate with the same database. So, card users could use the same card all around the world.

In the 1990s RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) used electronic waves to communicate with the card readers and made the cards known as proximity cards. RFID card technologies are predominantly used nowadays but Biometrics have been about for some time as well. Biometrics mean that you do not have to carry a ‘key’ of any kind as YOU are the key.

Despite their frequent use in movies such as Mission Impossible and James Bond. Hand scanners, which were originally used in the 1980s could be too easily fooled, therefore they were not a secure option.

Iris, face and finger scanners appeared in the 1990s but again could be fooled, are expensive and generally not capable of being used externally, which means they cannot be used for perimeter doors. There may also be a reluctance from people to use these devices, due to privacy concerns and the possibility of germ transference.

Biometrics Technologies have advanced a long way in the last 20 years and incorporating AI will mean that voice and facial recognition will play a major part in the future of access control. As will mobile credential technology and ‘Cloud Based’ software platforms and databases.

So, I think you’ll agree, a lot has happened in 6000 years.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)


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