Elevators have been around since Ancient Rome and historians have even estimated that the very first prototype was built in in 336 B.C using ropes, pulleys and slave labour. In fact Archimedes, a Greek mathematician, is credited in the first reference of elevator builds as the creator of this early design. Modern elevators as we know them today have come a long way and the advancements are down to years upon years of development and understanding. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the people who helped create the elevator…

The Romans

In the early days an elevator was an open cab rather than one that enclosed us inside a metal box. There were also different platforms with hoists that allowed the elevator cabs to move up and down and the romans would use people, animals or water wheels to allow them to move.

King Louis XV

In 1743, King Louis XV had the very first passenger elevator constructed in Versailles in order to allow him to travel from his first floor apartment to the second floor apartment of his mistress. Although it wasn’t much more advanced than the design that the roman used, they called it a ‘flying chair’.

Burton and Homer vs Frost and Stutt

The 1800’s is when elevator innovation really started to kick off and in 1823 two British architects called Burton and Homer created what they called an ‘ascending room’ in order to allow tourists visiting London to view the city from a higher platform. Their design was powered through steam and  worked remarkably well. Years later two more architects called Frost and Stutt developed the idea by adding a belt and counter weight. After this, it wasn’t long until hydraulics were invented; with water pressure being used make the elevator cab go up and down.

Design Issues

Although hydraulics was a very big step forward in the design of elevators, it wasn’t very practical as a pit had to be dug below the elevator shaft and its depth was dependant on how tall the actual elevator went. Due to this, it wasn’t easy to build elevators in big cities. In fact, whilst hydraulics were safer, steam powder elevators with counterweights remained in fashion. Their only negative was the risk of snapping cables which put the lives of passengers at risk.

Elisha Otis

Known as the ‘Inventor of the Modern Elevator’, Elisha Otis came up with a design that made elevators much safer in 1852. In fact, his design was demonstrated at a fair in 1854 in front of a large audience using a make-shift elevator. He stepped inside and had the ropes cut but instead of falling to his death, his safety hoist, a wooden beam situated at the top of the cab, stopped the elevator within seconds. In fact, Otis ended up founding his own elevator company and installing the very first public elevator in 1874.

Here at Elevators Ltd we believe that it is important to recognise how much work went into creating the modern elevator as we know it today. In fact, thanks to Elisha Otis’ safety design it is now virtually impossible for passengers to be at risk inside an elevator. To find out more information, get in contact with the best lift company around today!