April 4, 2013 - Happy Birthday, Linus Yale, Jr.!

If you use a lock and key today, think of today's birthday honoree, Linus Yale, Jr. He invented the sort of cylinder lock most of us use to secure many of our doors and drawers.

The idea of a cylinder lock is that a flat key with serrated edges is pushed into the keyhole, which is located in the plug in the center of the cylinder. Pins protruding through holes into the plug glide up and down as the key is inserted. Springs above the pins put continuous pressure on the the top and bottom pins. The right key will make the pins line up in the right spot, and the lock turns, unlocking the dead bolt or lockset.
Yale, who was born in New York on this date in 1821, followed in his father's footsteps. Linus Yale, Sr., ran a lock shop and specialized in bank locks. Yale, Jr., came up with fresh new ideas and opened Yale Lock Manufacturing Company. In his life, he applied for and received many patents for his innovative lock designs.
When was the first lock invented?
Old-fashioned keys weren't flat,
as modern keys are.
Locks of various sorts were invented several time independently, all over the world. We have no idea when or where the first lock was invented, but I can tell you that the oldest known lock was found in the ruins of the Khorsabad Palace, near Nineveh, in the ancient Assyrian empire. (This empire was located in what we now call the Middle East, in parts of Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Turkey.) The lock is about 4,000 years old!
Learn more about the history of locks here
We may soon be able to use an app to open our doors! I would love, love, love this! 
Also on this date:

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