Linus Yale, Jr. (4 April 1821 - 25 December 1868) was an American mechanical engineer and manufacturer, best known for his inventions of locks, especially the cylinder lock. His locks are still widely distributed in today’s society, and constitute a majority of personal locks and safes. Linus Yale, Jr. was born in Salisbury, NY. Yale’s father, Linus Yale, Sr. opened a lock shop in the 1840s in Newport, NY, specializing in bank locks. Yale soon joined his father in his business and introduced some revolutionary locks that utilized permutations and cylinders. He later founded a company with Henry Robinson Towne called the Yale Lock Manufacturing Company in the South End section of Stamford, CT. Throughout his career in lock manufacturing, Yale acquired numerous patents for his inventions and received widespread acclaim from clients regarding his products.
Linus Yale’s family are of Welsh descent, and his ancestors were of the same family as Elihu Yale, the benefactor to and namesake of the well known Yale University. Yale’s father was a successful inventor who specialized in locks and mechanical engineering, and who held eight patents for locks and another half dozen for threshing machines, sawmill head blocks, and millstone dressers. In 1858, Yale’s father died, and Linus Yale, Jr. became more involved with his father’s lock company.
Young Yale developed an early affinity for portrait painting, but about 1850 decided to assist his father in improving bank locks and to study mechanical problems. However, his finesse in drawing and sketching proved to be useful, as his diagrams on his later designs of locks were detailed and clear