The History of Stair Lifts

The History of Stair Lifts

Stair lifts may seem like a 21st century invention, but did you know that stair lifts actually date back to the 16th century?

The First Known Stair Lift

According to Dr. David Starkey, a historian, the earliest recorded stair lift was invented for King Henry VIII of England in the mid-1500s. After being injured in a jousting incident, he commissioned a “chairthrone” to go up and down the 20 steps in Whitehall Palace. It’s believed that his stair lift was human-operated and he had a staff of servants pulling ropes to lift him up and down the stairs.

The First Modern Stair Lift

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 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 stair lift and named it “the Inclin-ator.”


The first widely used stair lift was introduced by the Inclinator Company of America shortly after Crispen’s invention. 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.

Stair Lifts Today

In 2001, AmeriGlide was established and was among the first to sell stair lifts on the internet. We quickly dominated the market on the internet and is currently the leading online distributor of stair lifts. With dealerships opening up across America, we continues to offer high quality, affordable stair lifts in an effort to make them accessible 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 stair lift in their home.