Some of the simplest elevator designs began as chain or rope hoists that operated by a traction system. This consisted of a platform that was pulled or pushed up through mechanical means.
In the past, elevator driving mechanisms were largely powered by water and steam hydraulic pistons. Sometimes they were operated by hand as well, where cars were pulled up by a means of steel ropes and a pulley system. The elevator's cab or car space was balanced with the use of a counterweight, and sometimes two elevators would move in opposite directions at the same time, acting as each other's counterweight.