The History of Yale


Yale is one of the oldest international brands in the world and one of the best-known names in the locking industry. The Yale history captures major innovations that have marked the evolution not just of Yale, but of the entire locking industry.


Yale has its roots in colonial America. The Yale family decided to emigrate to the New World from North Wales. A few generations later, about 1840, Linus Yale Sr., began designing and manufacturing a series of innovative, high security locks at his Yale Lock Shop in Newport, New York. He specialized in expensive, handmade bank locks.

Pioneer innovations

Linus Yale Sr.'s son joined his father in the business in 1850 and perfected and patented his father's pin tumbler cylinder lock and became the considered locking expert of his time. In 1862, Yale Jr. introduced the Monitor Bank Lock, marking the transition in bank locks from key locks to dial or combination locks. The principles, embodied in his Monitor Lock, are now standard in combination locks throughout the USA.

Yale Jr. was also experimenting with a lock based on a mechanism first employed by the ancient Egyptians over 4,000 years ago. Granted patents in 1861 and 1865, Yale finally succeeded in creating his most important invention – the Yale cylinder lock. Linus Yale Jr. transformed the locking industry forever with his many breakthrough inventions.

Worldwide expansion

Relying on Yale patents, Yale’s sterling name and sheer ingenuity, Linus Yale Jr. and his colleague Henry Towne established the Yale & Towne company in 1868, at the time employing 35 people.

The company grew and broadened it’s scope with manually operated chain hoists, battery powered platform trucks and in 1879 a line of padlocks was introduced.

Yale & Towne purchased Norton door closer company and H. and T. Vaughan Ltd. In the early 20th century, the company expanded worldwide and employed more than 12,000 staff. Throughout the 20th century purchases, acquisitions and joint ventures with brands as Guli, Chubb Locks, Parkes and C E Marshall have made Yale locks well-known worldwide.

In August 2000 Yale was purchased by the ASSA ABLOY Group - the world's leading lock group.

Linus Yale Jr

Linus Yale Jr. transformed the locking industry forever with his many breakthrough inventions, but his most important invention was the Yale Cylinder lock.