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The first reference to an elevator is in the works of the Roman - 2012-10-24

The first reference to an elevator is in the works of the Roman architect Vitruvius, who reported that Archimedes (c. 287 BC – c. 212 BC) built his first elevator probably in 236 BC.[13] In some literary sources of later historical periods, elevators were mentioned as cabs on a hemp rope and powered by hand or by animals. It is supposed that elevators of this type were installed in the Sinai monastery of Egypt.

In 1000, the Book of Secrets by al-Muradi in Islamic Spain described the use of an elevator-like lifting device, in order to raise a large battering ram to destroy a fortress.[14] In the 17th century the prototypes of elevators were located in the palace buildings of England and France.

Ancient and medieval elevators used drive systems based on hoists or winders. The invention of a system based on the screw drive was perhaps the most important step in elevator technology since ancient times, leading to the creation of modern passenger elevators. The first screw drive elevator was built by Ivan Kulibin and installed in Winter Palace in 1793. Several years later another of Kulibin's elevators was installed in Arkhangelskoye near Moscow. In 1823, an "ascending room" made its debut in London.[15]

In the middle 19th century, there were many types of crude elevators that carried freight. Most of them ran hydraulically. The first hydraulic elevators used a plunger below the car to raise or lower the elevator. A pump applied water pressure to a steel column inside a vertical cylinder. Increasing the pressure caused the elevator to ascend. The elevator also used a system of counterbalancing so that the plunger did not have to lift the entire weight of the elevator and its load. The plunger, however, was not practical for tall buildings, because it required a pit as deep below the building as the building was tall. Later, a rope-geared elevator with multiple pulleys was developed.

Henry Waterman of New York is credited with inventing the "standing rope control" for an elevator in 1850.[16]

In 1852, Elisha Otis introduced the safety elevator, which prevented the fall of the cab if the cable broke. The design of the Otis safety elevator is somewhat similar to one type still used today. A governor device engages knurled roller(s), locking the elevator to its guides should the elevator descend at excessive speed. He demonstrated it at the New York exposition in the Crystal Palace in a dramatic, death-defying presentation in 1854.[16][17]

On March 23, 1857 the first Otis passenger elevator was installed at 488 Broadway in New York City.

The first elevator shaft preceded the first elevator by four years. Construction for Peter Cooper's Cooper Union Foundation building in New York began in 1853. An elevator shaft was included in the design, because Cooper was confident that a safe passenger elevator would soon be invented.[18] The shaft was cylindrical because Cooper felt it was the most efficient design.[19] Later, Otis designed a special elevator for the building. Today the Otis Elevator Company, now a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation, is the world's largest manufacturer of vertical transport systems.

The Equitable Life Building completed in 1870 in New York City was the first office building to have passenger elevators.[20]

The first electric elevator was built by Werner von Siemens in 1880.[21]

The safety and speed of electric elevators were significantly enhanced by Frank Sprague who added floor control, automatic elevators, acceleration control of cars, and safeties. His elevator ran faster and with larger loads than hydraulic or steam elevators, and 584 electric elevators were installed before Sprague sold his company to the Otis Elevator Company in 1895. Sprague also developed the idea and technology for multiple elevators in a single shaft.

The inventor Anton Freissler developed the ideas of von Siemens and built up a successful enterprise in Austria-Hungary.

The development of elevators was led by the need for movement of raw materials including coal and lumber from hillsides. The technology developed by these industries and the introduction of steel beam construction worked together to provide the passenger and freight elevators in use today.

In 1874, J.W. Meaker patented a method which permitted elevator doors to open and close safely. U.S. Patent 147,853

In 1882, when hydraulic power was a well established technology, a company later named the London Hydraulic Power Company was formed. It constructed a network of high pressure mains on both sides of the Thames which, ultimately, extended to 184 miles and powered some 8,000 machines, predominantly lifts (elevators) and cranes.[22]

In 1887, American Inventor Alexander Miles of Duluth, Minnesota patented an elevator with automatic doors that would close off the elevator shaft.

In 2000 a vacuum elevator was offered commercially in Argentina.