Elevators Through the Ages

Today machines exist that can bore through a closed artery within a human body, or destroy a city, yet engineers claim that all machines can be reduced to the fundamental components known to the early /Greeks - the lever, the wheel and axle, the pulley, the inclined plane/wedge and the screw - all of which have been found in some form within the short-range material/people movers of all eras, And we do not wish to forget the rope/cable which human muscle used before any combination of such components were conceived. As the combinations of components evolved into ever more complex lifting mechanisms it was ever grounded upon a continual improvement of the inherent parts; fiber rope into metal cable; wheels into various kinds of interactions and ratios between geared wheels; iron replacing, or reinforcing, wood; then new metal alloys that increased the strength and longevity of castings, guide rails and structural pieces. When it was found that a greater variety of materials could be lifted upon a platform on the end of the rope than the traditional hook, the “elevator” was truly born. Thereafter, associated workmen saw that they, too, could be lifted. With royalty and commercial upper classes being considered more valuable than others their safety became a concern that was eventually extended to others and innovation turned to the development of car and hoistway enclosures - and of related safety devices, The miner in the bucket eventually became the commercial entrepreneur in the moving parlor car! The perpetual motion machine remains a dream. A machine is only as useful as the power that can be applied to it and we have portrayed the evolution of man, beast, wind, water, steam, hydraulic and electric power. Electric power not only drove machinery it allowed a much finer control and security than did previous mechanical levers and interlocks. In addition to geometrically increasing production the Industrial Revolution brought the desire of its adherents to carry out business more efficiently. Those in the commercial world wished to move faster and more safely. Electricity might assure higher speeds, and eventually a finer interaction between cars in a bank, but this had to be accompanied by more efficient signals and fixtures, along with buffers and other safety devices. Comfort was demanded along with higher speeds, and the control of acceleration and deceleration became an important concern of the electrical era. Erecting higher personal and corporate monuments - “keeping up with the Jones’s” - stimulated the creation of ever more elaborate cabins and fixtures for “skyscraper” inhabitants.. As the creation of elevator components expanded and evolved to meet the demand specialty suppliers came into being and assured that maximum attention was given particular elements of the elevator package. Competition among such companies brought ever-swifter evolution of the component parts, assuring the continued evolution of the complete vertical transportation plant..