The concept of identifying someone to determine whether or not they are permitted entry or denied, the provision of necessary credentials for a certain role is and has been a security fundamental since ancient times.
Very early tribal cultures (even as far back as the caveman) utilized the right of passage if the individual possessed a certain garment, marking on an item or even a scar signifying approval within their tribe to perform a certain task or have privileges to certain things or areas.
As we grew, areas become more populated and civilized, newer methods were developed and implemented to provide access control. The Egyptians, over 4000+ years ago implemented a lock and key system. They were wooden locks, but locks nonetheless. The key was only given to those individuals that it was determined needed access or were permitted access to a particular protected area or object. Even though it would appear to be very primitive by today’s standards (Wooden lock to protect your house? Not so much) the technology used and the social appetite of the day was very effective in ancient Egypt.
Today the tradition continues. Security and Risk professionals use the availability of today’s technology to protect valuable assets. Allowance into certain areas or to certain things is still based on the status an individual holds within an organization, the need for access, possession or use of the object or item and the accepted culture and appetite of the day.
I’m just glad we got past the whole scarring method of access control.