Since their invention, stair 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. One day, they’ll all be called “AmeriGlides” (although we might be a little biased in that prediction). While the future of this 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 420 pounds), he commissioned a “chairthrone” 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 stair 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.
In the 1992, UK-based Acorn began buying used stair lifts, refurbishing them, and selling them at a lower price than new stair lifts. They were met with high demand for their product, and began producing their own inexpensive lift. Today they’re one of the largest manufacturers of stair lifts in the world.
In 2001, AmeriGlide was established and was among the first to sell stair lifts on the internet. The company quickly dominated the market on the internet and is currently the leading online distributor of stair lifts. With dealerships opening up across America, AmeriGlide continues to offer high quality, affordable stair lifts in an effort to make them accessible (pun intended) to the most amount of people possible.
It’s been a long journey for stair lifts, from King Henry VIII’s lift to C.C. Crispen’s first prototype and into today. The modern stair 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 America will have an “AmeriGlide” in their house.
Click here to see the AmeriGlide Platinum Curved Stair Lift (pictured right).