The cylinder lock

After the Barron, Bramah and Chubb locks were so successful in Britain, Yale in the United States took cylinder locks to a new level.

The cylinder lock, previously called “patent lock”, was developed by Linus Yale senior (1797–1857), but his son Linus Yale Junior improved the product, and his patent number 48475 dated June 27, 1865, revolutionized the door lock market. Cylinder locks, with various modifications, are still one of our most common lock types for doors, gates and padlocks. In Sweden, cylinder locks have been used since the early 1880s.

In 1868, Linus Yale and his partner Henry Robinson Towne (1844–1924) founded the Yale Lock Manufacturing Company in Stamford, Connecticut in the United States.
The name was later changed to the Yale and Towne Manufacturing Company, and eventually became a part of NACCO Industries, Inc. (originally the Cleveland and Western Coal Company, founded in 1913). In August 2000, the Yale part of the company was acquired by the ASSA ABLOY Group, forming a significant part of the worldwide organization.

The entrance door lock with cylinder came to be the modern surface-mounted door lock for apartment doors, among other things. In Britain, it is a traditional front door lock.

The design of the cylinder lock
Like Christoffer Polhem’s padlock, the cylinder lock consists of fixed and moving mechanisms. However, Linus Yale senior probably did not adopt the lock principle from a Polhem-inspired Scandinavian Padlock – which were manufactured in the United States – but from an Egyptian tumbler lock (which Roman engineers had developed into a metal lock with metal key and springs), adding some of the technology of a Brahma lock. This led to the creation of whole family of complex locks, the Yale Cylinder Pin Tumbler Locks.

The lock principle started out simple, with the idea of an inner cylinder that turns on an axis inside an outer cylinder. To open the lock, several spring-loaded, separate pins (tumblers) needed to be aligned by the teeth of the key. The key was small, thin and easy to carry in a pocket or key case. A lot has happened since the first locks went into use, and many of the changes that have come along led to new patents. The level of security of locks used in Sweden has expanded from the original four pins to seven. As cylinders become more advanced and more secure, so do entrance door locks.

Encyclopaedia Britannica on cylinder locks
In 1848 a far-reaching contribution was made by an American, Linus Yale, who patented a pin tumbler lock working on an adaptation of the ancient Egyptian principle. In the 1860s his son Linus Yale, Jr., evolved the Yale cylinder lock, with its small, flat key with serrated edge, now probably the most familiar lock and key in the world. Pins in the cylinder are raised to the proper heights by the serrations, making it possible to turn the cylinder. The number of combinations of heights of the pins (usually five), coupled with the warding effect of the crooked key and keyhole, give an almost unlimited number of variations (see Figure 2). It has come to be almost universally used for outside doors of buildings and automobile doors, although in the 1960s there was a trend toward supplementing it on house doors with the sturdy lever lock.

Today’s locks and security solutions

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