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Fascinating facts about the invention of the
Escalator
by Nathan Ames in 1859.

ESCALATOR
AT A GLANCE:
The first patent # 25,076 relating to an escalator-like machine was granted in March 9, 1859 to Nathan Ames of Saugus, Massachusetts for an invention that he called Revolving Stairs. His design for the escalator was far ahead of its time, yet was never built. It appears that Mr. Ames died in 1860. The earliest working type of escalator, patented in 1892 by Jesse W. Reno, was introduced as a new novelty ride at the Old Iron Pier at Coney Island NY, NY in 1896.
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Invention: escalator in 1859
The Seeberger escalator prototype being built at Otis' Yonkers, N.Y., plant in 1899. Photo courtesy www.otis.com
Definition: noun / es∑ca∑la∑tor / originally a trademark
Function: A power-driven set of stairs arranged like an endless belt that ascend or descend continuously. moving staircase used as transportation between floors or levels in subways, buildings, and other mass pedestrian areas.
Patent: 25,076 (US) issued March 9, 1859 for Revolving Stairs
Inventor: Nathan Ames  
Criteria: First to invent. First to patent.
Nationality: American
Milestones:
1859 Nathan Ames of Saugus, Massachusetts patents Revolving Stairs 25,076 issued March 9, 1859
1891 Jesse Reno invents escalator-type elevator apparatus. Files January 2, for patent
1891 George A. Wheeler invents escalator-type apparatus. Files March 5, for patent
1892 Reno of New York, New York patents Endless Conveyer or Elevator 470,918 issued March 15,
1892 George A. Wheeler of New York, New York patents Elevator 479,864 issued August 2,
1896 Reno installed his version of an escalator at the Old Iron Pier at Coney Island in New York City
1896 Charles D. Seeberger invents escalator-type elevator apparatus. Files May 19, for patent
1897 George A. Wheeler invents escalator-type elevator improvements. Files April 18, for patent
1899 Charles D. Seeberger of Chicago, Illinois patents Elevator 617,778 issued January 17,
1899 George A. Wheeler of New York, New York patents Elevator 617,788 issued January 17.
1899 Seeberger buys Wheeler patent and goes to work for Otis Elevator Company
1900 Seeberger registered "Escalator" as a trademark for a moving stairway
1900 Otis's first step-type escalator made for public use, is installed at the Paris Exhibition
1902 Jesse Reno founded the Reno Electric Stairways and Conveyors company
1910 Otis Elevator Company buys Seeberger patent and "Escalator" trademark.
1911 Otis Elevator Company buys Reno patent
1921 Otis engineers, led by David Lindquist, add improvements resulting in today's escalator.
escalator, moving stairway, inclined elevator, nathan ames, jesse reno, george wheeler,  charles seeberger, david lindquist, otis elevator company, invention, history, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.
 

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
Invention of the Elevator   from The Great Idea Finder
Transportation History   from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
1000 Inventions & Discoveries
by Roger Bridgman / Hardcover: 256 pages / Dorling Kindersley Publishing; (2002)
Fascinating stories and vivid photographs and illustrations tell the tales of the developments in technology and natural science that have shaped our world. Profiles of the famous (and not-so-famous) men and women who have had "Eureka!" moments, a running timeline which puts the inventions and discoveries in historical context.

The Engines of Our Ingenuity : An Engineer Looks at Technology and Culture
by John H. Lienhard / Paperback: 272 pages / Oxford University Press, USA (December 4, 2003)
Based on episodes from Lienhard's widely broadcast public radio series, this intriguing set of essays begins with a simple premise: more than we often care to admit, our lives are shaped by our machines. Fleshing out this proposition, Lienhard ransacks 2,000 years of scientific and technological history, cobbling together a quirky biography of the strange being he calls homo technologicus.
Otis Giving Rise to the Modern City
by Jason Goodwin / Hardcover: 320 pages / Ivan R Dee, Inc.; (September 2001)

The skyscraper, that most durable symbol of modernity, would not have been possible without the elevator, and the elevator as we have come to know it is largely the product of the company that Elisha Otis founded in the 1850s.


ON THE WEB:

A Moving Stairway
Charles D. Seeberger sold his patents and the trademark Escalator, to Otis Elevator Company. The first moving stairway was set up in 1898 at Otisí Yonkers Works in New York. When the unit was moved to France to be exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1900, it was labeled Escalator.
(URL: www.otis.com/otis150/section/1,2344,ARC3167_CLI1_RES1_SEC3,00.html)

Nathan Ames
Nathan Ames was a patent solicitor, and considered an expert in such matters, and invented several useful machines. He was also a writer of both prose and poetry, writing among other books "Pirate's Glen," "Dungeon Rock" and "Childe Harold." He died in 1860. Article from The Bay State Monthly - Volume 2, Issue 3, December, 1884. From Project Gutenberg.
(URL: www.gutenberg.org/files/13864/13864-h/13864-h.htm)
Escalator History
The Otis Elevator Company later combined the best aspects of both the Reno and Seeberger inventions and in 1921 produced an escalator of the type used today. These improvements in design brought the escalator into extensive use in department stores and banks and in metropolitan railroad and subway stations.Article by Charles A. Buckman, CSS, CEI., vertical transportation consultant.
(URL: www.elevator-expert.com/history.htm)

Reno's Amusement Park Ride
The earliest type of escalator, patented in 1892 by Jesse W. Reno, was introduced as a new novelty ride at Coney Island moving passengers on a conveyor belt (no steps) at an angle of 25 degrees. COOKIES and POP-UP ADS.
(URL: www.todayinsci.com/cgi-bin/indexpage.pl?http://www.todayinsci.com/8/8_02.htm)

The Word "Escalator"
It is believed Charles Seeberger combined the Latin word "scala" for steps with part of the word elevator (the prefix "e" with the suffix "tor") to form escalator. Other reports, however, suggest he derived his term from the French word "escalade," a "climb over a wall."
(URL: www.theelevatormuseum.org/h/h-1.htm#15)

The History of the Escalator
According to Otis, "In the 1920s, Otis engineers, led by David Lindquist, combined and improved the Jesse Reno and Charles Seeberger escalator designs, and created the cleated, level steps of the modern escalator in use today. Article by Mary Bellis. COOKIES and POP-UP ADS.
(URL: inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blescalator.htm)

Seeberger Search
On this page I will describe in an informal manner, which activities are actual and which results and problems occurred in my search for the Seeberger family history and the escalator..
(URL: www.seeberger-online.de/Seeberger-English/What_s_new/Activites/body_activites.html)
First Escalator is Coney Island Ride
The amusement park ride, which transported riders on a conveyor belt built at a 25-degree angle, was considered a novelty by the 75,000 people who rode it during its two-week Coney Island exhibition. Article It Happened In New York by Cynthia Blair for Newsday
(URL: www.newsday.com/)
Magic Stairway
The old Reno escalator was a solid piece of equipment, and many are still in use. You can spot them in the Boston and London subway systems. They have a characteristic structure of wooden slats that make up their treads and risers. Article by John H. Lienhard. Available in text or audio.
(URL: www.uh.edu/engines/epi250.htm)

Invention-Escalator
The Otis Elevator Company of New York manufactured it, and it was exhibited in 1900 at the Paris Exposition, where the name "escalator" was adopted. Article by David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace
(URL: www.trivia-library.com/b/story-behind-inventors-and-inventions-escalator.htm)

Escalators - The worst invention ever?  
Stairs can be dated back millennia. We can see evidence of their early use in South American pyramids, Macchu Picchu and the city of Babylon. They are a cheap and effective way of traversing heights. Article by Ron Simpson.
(URL: www.nzherald.tx.co.nz/schools/ryan_simpson.htm)

WORDS OF WISDOM:
"Life is an escalator: You can move forward or backward; you can not remain still." - Patricia Russell-McCloud

HOW IT WORKS:
The Mechanics of How an Escalator Works
In the year 2000, Otis' celebrated its centennial anniversary in the escalator business, Otis continues to look to the future and strives to improve Otis escalators.

DID YOU KNOW?:

  • It is believed Charles Seeberger combined the Latin word "scala" for steps with part of the word elevator (the prefix "e" with the suffix "tor") to form escalator.
  • The earliest working type of escalator, patented in 1892 by Jesse W. Reno, was introduced as a new novelty ride at Coney Island moving passengers on a conveyor belt (no steps) at an angle of 25 degrees.
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised September, 2005.
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