A Brief History of Elevators

Along with the rapid development of the global economy and the improvement of the level of urbanization of society, elevators, as a vertical transportation tool in residential buildings, office buildings and other buildings, have become an indispensable part of our daily life. Then do you know the history of elevator development?

Table of Contents


Elevators as lifting equipment, its origin can be traced back to the invention of Chinese working people more than 1000 BC windlass, a kind of windlass winch composed of wooden (or bamboo) support, reel, crank and rope. It is the most primitive lifting tool to transport people and food, using human or animal power as the driving force.

In 1845, the British William Thomson made the world’s first hydraulic elevator, the medium of hydraulic drive is water, which is the prototype of a modern hydraulic elevator.

water drive hydraulic elevator

In 1852, a 41-year-old American engineer, Eliza Graves Otis (OTIS), invented a manned lift powered by a steam engine and equipped with a safety device. In the event of a sling break, it locks the car to the rails to prevent a fall. Since then the old lift has undergone a major change.

Eliza Graves Otis

In 1854, at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in New York, Mr. Otis demonstrated his world’s first safety elevator. He stood on a high elevator platform and cut the sling. Amidst the shouts of the audience, the platform was securely held by a safety clamp and Mr. Otis stepped off the platform unharmed. Thus began a reliable guarantee of fall protection safety for elevators, which laid the foundation and set a precedent for the development of elevator technology thereafter.

In 1889, the United States OTIS company launched the world’s first lift powered by DC motor, they are directly connected by DC motor and worm drive to lift the elevator car through the reel at a speed of 0.5m/s, which constitutes the basic drive structure of modern elevator.

In 1900, AC induction motor-driven elevators began to appear.

In 1903, Traction-driven elevators appeared.

In 1967, a thyristor was used to drive the elevator, and AC voltage regulated elevator was developed.

In 1980, AC frequency control systems appeared.

In 1984, Japan applied the frequency conversion speed control system to elevators above 2m/s.

If you want to know more about elevators, or if you want to find a professional elevator manufacturer for your building, then just contact Dazen. Dazen Elevator is a professional elevator manufacturer in China, with products including passenger elevators, sightseeing elevators, home elevators, freight elevators, hospital elevators, etc. Our experts will support you from planning to shipping.

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