Since their invention, staircase lifts have been called a lot of different names. They’ve been called stairway chair lifts, stairway lifts, staircase lifts, just plain chair lifts, handicap stair lifts, and almost any other variation you can imagine. While the future of his modern necessity is certainly exciting, the history behind it is just as fascinating.
The earliest recorded stair lift was invented for King Henry VIII of England in the mid-1500s. After being injured in a jousting incident (not to mention weighing approximately 220 kg), he commissioned a “chair-throne” to go up and down the 20 feet of steps at his palatial London home, Whitehall Palace. It is believed to have used a block and tackle system from one of his warships, and was operated by a staff of servants.

In 1923, the precursor to the modern staircase lift was invented by C.C. Crispen, a Pennsylvania entrepreneur. A friend of his who was immobilized due to polio was having trouble getting between two floors in his house, so Crispen, a self-taught engineer, created a seat capable of traveling up and down stairs. It was a basic chair connected to a rail that went the length of the staircase. It ran on small wheels or rollers and was moved by a chain or a cable. Crispen built his first prototype and named it “the Inclin-ator”.

The first widely used stair lift was introduced by the Inclinator Company of America shortly after. Early users were largely comprised of those affected by polio, who could not easily climb or descend stairs. The product increased in use and the technology advanced as more companies began producing them.

Stairlift Manufacturing in Europe

In the beginning of the last century Otolift was established specializing in the manufacturing of steam chambers. In the sixties the steam business was changed to the staircase lift business. Due to the simple concept and long lasting material usage Otolift grew out to the largest lift manufacturer in Western Europe with dealers like Upstairs and resellers across Asia and Europe.

It’s been a long journey for staircase lifts, from King Henry VIII’s lift to C.C. Crispen’s first prototype and into today. The modern staircase lift is only going to get more comfortable, more technologically advanced, and more affordable. It will certainly continue to be a product to keep an eye on as it becomes even more and more popular. Perhaps someday every senior in Malaysia will have a staircase lift in their house.

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