The first patent on an escalator

By Gene Quinn
August 9, 2016

Revolving stairsOn August 9, 1859, the first patent ever issued on a moving stairway, what today we would call an escalator, was granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to Nathan Ames. Figure 1 (left) shows a perspective view of the double parallel arrangement of stairs, with two flights of stairs side by side. Figure 3 (below) shows a side view of a triangular arrangement where both an ascending and descending flight of stairs are attached to an endless belt.

The Ames escalator, or “revolving stairs” as he called it, would never be built.

U.S. Patent No. 25,076 began:

To all whom it may concern: Be it known that I, Nathan Ames, of Saugus, in the county of Essex and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, have invented a new and useful Improvement in Stairs, which I call Revolving Stairs; and I do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description of the construction and operation of the same, reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming a part of these specification…

The patent text is two full pages, which is rather long for the day, concludes with five patent claims:

  1. Arranging steps, or stairs, upon an endless belt, or in any manner equivalent, and placing them over rollers substantially as described, so as to form a revolving flight of stairs which may be used both as a common blight and as an elevator.
  2. The triangular arrangement of the stairs as shown substantially in Fig. 3, whereby an endless flight is made to pass around three rollers, B,D,D, for purpose described.
  3. The double parallel arrangement, as shown substantially in Figs. 1 and 3, whereby ascending and descending flights are placed side by side.
  4. The use of auxiliary stationary steps or stairs, to operate in connection with the revolving stairs, substantially as, and for the purpose, set forth.
  5. The employment, or use, of rods, or slots to operate in connection with the slotted stairs, substantially as described and for the objects specified.

Revolving stairs

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and President & CEO ofIPWatchdog, Inc.. Gene founded IPWatchdog.com in 1999. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and Of Counsel to the law firm of Berenato & White, LLC. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

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