Linus Yale, Jr.
Born April 4 1821 – Died December 25 1868
Post-Office Drawer Lock
Patent No. 31,278
Linus Yale, Jr. made radical innovations in lock making that were the basis
for the modern key and tumbler lock.
Yale initially focused on improving bank safe locks. He patented an
“unpickable” lock, called the “Yale Infallible Bank
Lock,” in 1855. A number of improved key-based bank locks followed. Yale
then developed the first combination lock,
eliminating the need for a key. Next, the inventor turned his attention to
general-use locks. He improved on his father’s
design for small key and tumbler locks, and invented the first modern
cylinder lock. Based on a pin-tumbler mechanism known
to the ancient Egyptians, Yale devised a lock that used a smaller, flat key
with serrated edges like those still in use
today. His device became widely known as the “Yale lock.”
In 1868, Yale and Henry R. Towne together established the company that
became the Yale Lock Manufacturing Company. By the
early twentieth century, the company employed more than 12,000 people
worldwide. Yale locks are still widely used in both
commercial and general applications.
Yale was born in Salisbury, New York. Well educated and having an early
interest in art, he worked as a portraitist for
several years before following his father into the lock making business.