Yale, Linus

Yale, Linus

(1821–68) inventor, manufacturer; born in Salisbury, Conn. He tried his hand at portrait painting and then began to assist his father in improving bank locks. By 1849 he had set up a small lock factory in Shelburne Falls, Mass., and began to invent and manufacture a continuous series of improved locks, both for banks and private use. In 1851 he patented the first "double lock"—two locks within one case, operated by a key. About 1862 he began to sell the "Monitor Bank Lock," the first dial-operated combination lock. In 1863 he patented the Yale Double Dial Bank Lock, the basis of bank safe locks still in use. In 1861 he patented a small cylinder lock with pin tumblers, operated by a key; this was the first modern pin-tumbler lock, although it was based on a mechanism used by the Egyptians as early as 2000 B.C. In 1865 he patented an improved cylinder lock, the basis of Yale locks still in use. With his Massachusetts factory busy making bank locks, in 1868 he formed a partnership with John H. Towne and his son Henry R. Towne and set up the Yale Lock Manufacturing Company in Stamford, Conn., to make cylinder locks. Yale died soon after the factory began production.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.