History and Story Behind Inventions: Cylinder Locks

About the story behind the invention of cylinder locks, history and biography of inventor Linus Yale, Jr.

INVENTION: Cylinder Lock

INVENTOR: Linus Yale, Jr., U.S.

YEAR: 1861

HOW INVENTED: The trouble was that while there were locks aplenty, there was not one that couldn't be easily opened with a skeleton key. Then along came Linus Yale, Jr. He lived in Salisbury, N.Y., a failed portrait painter who took up his father's business of lockmaking to survive. He decided that what the world needed was a better lock, a foolproof one that no other key but its own could open. He created the 1st pin-tumbler cylinder lock.

Preparing to move into his own factory in Stamford, Conn., Yale died on Christmas Day, 1868, before he could reap personal profits from his wonder lock. Yale's lock became "the 1st product to be mass-produced in nonidentical form."

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