August 4 marks the 155th birthday of Jesse Wilford Reno. Here is a short biography of his life and work from the Elevator Museum.
Jesse Wilford Reno, born 1861 in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, was an inventive young man who formulated his idea for an inclined moving stairway at age 16. After graduating from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, his engineering career took him to Colorado, then to Americus, Georgia where he is credited with building the first electric railway in the southern U.S. Reno submitted his first patent application for a “new and useful endless conveyor or elevator” in 1891. It became effective 15 months later. The machine was built and installed at Coney Island, Brooklyn, as an amusement ride in September 1895. Moving stairways were just one arrow in the quiver, for in 1896, Reno developed plans for the building of the New York City subway, a double-decker underground system that could be completed in three years. With the plan not accepted, the inventor married and moved to London where he opened his new company, The Reno Electric Stairways and Conveyors, Ltd. in 1902. His pallet-type moving stairways were being installed throughout the U.S., Great Britain and Europe, but Reno became fascinated with a new challenge — building the first Spiral Moving Walkway. He joined with William Henry Aston, holder of a patent for the flexible pallet coupling and chain, to create the pioneering mechanism that was exhibited for four years and installed on the London railway at his own cost, but never used by the public. In 1903, the firm of Waygood and Otis Limited bought a third share in the Reno Company, but with the failure of the Spiral Walkway, Reno sold his patents to Otis and returned to the U.S.
Frank J. Sprague
by Evelyn Jutte
July 25th marks the 159th birthday of Frank J. Sprague. Here is an overview of his life and work.
Hailed during his lifetime as the “Father of Electric Traction” by leaders in the fields of science, engineering and industry, Frank Julian Sprague’s achievements in horizontal transportation were paralleled by equally remarkable achievements in vertical transportation. During a six-decade career, Sprague distinguished himself as an inventor for his accomplishments in the development of the electric railway, early electric elevators, and the commercial electric motor. Sprague was born in Milford, Connecticut in 1857. He attended Drury High School and excelled in mathematics. Sprague won the appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, and with US$400 in borrowed cash, set out for Annapolis, Maryland, in 1874.
After the publication of the second volume in the Educational Focus series, Educational Focus, Volume 2, I (HV) interviewed editor Dr. Albert So (AS) about the book and his perspective on the elevator industry. Dr. So is an executive board member and scientific advisor of the International Association of Elevator Engineers (IAEE). He is also the academic secretary for the IAEE HK-China Branch and honorary visiting professor of the University of Northampton in the U.K. He serves on the Technical Advisory Group of Elevator World, Inc., and is based in Seattle.
HV: How did you become involved in the writing and production of Educational Focus, Volume 2?
AS: I have been associated with Elevator World (EW) for more than 10 years as the international correspondent, and I contributed technical articles to EW from time to time. Starting early 2014, I had been engaged as a contract writer of EW by monthly contributing technical articles and taking the lead to prepare two new volumes of Educational Focus. As a matter of fact, years ago, I was one loyal reader and user of Educational Focus, Volume 1, for my courses in the university. It was natural for me to help compile Volume 2 and then Volume 3. By August of 2014, I was further invited to become a member of the Technical Advisory Group of EW, and have been involved in reviewing articles submitted to EW. Continue reading