Elisha Graves Otis, American inventor, c 1850.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
In 1852 Elisha Graves Otis (1811-1861) developed his ideas for a safe elevator by adding safety levers which engaged the ratcheted guide rails of the elevator if the cable broke. He made a succesful demonstration at the American Institute Fair in New York in 1854 by standing on top of the elevator cage while the support cable was cut. This succes started a revolution in architecture and made sky-scrapers a realistic posibility. Otis also patented the steam elevator ensuring the future of the Otis Elevator Company.