Inventors & Engineers

Andre-Marie Ampere / Michael Faraday / Friedrich Koepe / Georg Ohm / Elisha Otis / Frank A. Perret / Jesse Reno / The Siemens Brothers / Frank J. Sprague / Nikola Tesla / Otis Tufts / Alessandro Volta / James Watt

The question is often asked of those within the elevator industry, "When and where was the elevator invented and by whom?" This would elicit the same response if the question concerned the birth of the ship, automobile, locomotive or aircraft. All such complex machines are the brainchildren of countless innovators, reaching back to the individual who first extracted metal from ore; learned to combine two or more components to make a more useful mechanism; or in later centuries, shouted "Eureka!" as the idea of giving a steam engine rotary motion was conceived. Many entrepreneurs are hidden in the mists of time -- the first man to consider lifting material or a person in a basket, net or bucket; he who replaced the hook on the end of a rope with a platform, thought of rails guiding a platform or conceived how to terminate ropes or cables securely. Other innovators are not lost to the record in the elevator museum -- he who made the first leather cup serving to contain water pressure within a cylinder; or observed an auto service lift shortly before World War II and envisioned a column of oil lifting loads and passengers. In early times, inventors patented their innovations, being named as the creator of the mechanism or process. Later, engineers assigned their inventions to the employer as a part of the initial hiring contract. Often the creativity of such individuals is blurred and should be resurrected. On the other hand, modern-age inventions were frequently spawned by teams of technicians. Throughout this museum, copy cards attempt to give credit where it is due and a Time Line consolidation also serves to pinpoint the "who," "when" and "where" of ongoing innovation. Periodically, as with the "first traction elevator installation," several companies claim the honor. However, obvious improvements sometimes take place in different parts of the world, almost simultaneously. This is an opportune time to set the record straight, and we encourage historians to convey specific knowledge of innovators. The information will be placed "online" -- practically the same as being "set in concrete"!