The modern elevator was invented by Elisha Graves Otis in 1852. He developed a safety device that would allow the rudimentary elevators of the day to be halted in place should the cables break.
Although the modern elevator has only been around since 1852, platforms that rose and fell using winches, rope, counterweight and manpower were first built by Archimedes in Ancient Greece. Another famous elevator belonged to King Louis XV, who had it built so he could be transported from his quarters to his mistresses' rooms. Until Otis' safety device, the steam-powered elevators of the 19th century were dangerous, as there was nothing to stop the car from free falling if a cable broke.