Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

Who invented the ladder is a question that doesn’t have any certain answer yet. Master carpenter John H. Balsley from Connellsville, Pennsylvania, holds the patent for wooden folding step ladder and safety stepladder.

The height of an average human being, male or female, is 5 feet 9 inches. This could vary depending on genetics and so on. Some taller buildings and objects surround us, so what happens when we need to reach up to them? You guessed right; we use a ladder.

Read my tips on best attic stairs for money.

What comes to your mind when you think/hear of a ladder? Today we dwell on understanding this piece of equipment; its origin, its invention, and the history of ladder.

A ladder is a tool used when climbing up to reach a tall building or object and climbing down from the same. It has two side pieces and rugs in between sets at a distance to allow for easy movement.

It could be made of various materials such as wood, aluminum, and fiberglass. Oftentimes it is portable. It could also be inclined or vertical to best suit the needs of the user.

Ladders could be made of bamboo, wood, aluminum, or fiberglass.

The word ladder is thought to have traces from various languages, such as the old Gothic word (commonly known as old English) hleithra, which means something that slopes. It is also linked to the middle English word ladrea, which could almost be likened to the word used ladder nowadays.

It could also be linked to German words such as heldere used by Frisian speakers to refer to a ladder, leitara used in Old High German, and ledere used in the Middle dutch.

It is beyond a reasonable doubt that the ladder is among the oldest tools currently used. No one knows the exact time of the ladder’s invention, but scientists stipulate that its invention dates back to nearly 10,000 years ago.

The earliest evidence of a ladder was spotted in rock painting in Valencia, Spain.

Cueva_arana
Ladder pianting in Bicorp, Valencia, eastern Spain. (source)

The painting showed two men using a ladder to reach for a beehive to harvest honey. Here a ladder is depicted as a helping tool that helped the men acquire food.

A ladder is also mentioned in religion when Jacob saw a ladder from heaven coming down to earth. This cannot be termed as a physical ladder, but it shows that the ladders were in existence, even BC.

Jacob's Ladder in the original Luther Bibles (of 1534 and also 1545)
acob’s Ladder in the original Luther Bibles (of 1534 and also 1545) (Source)

We cannot put a specific timeline to when the ladder was first made or even used, but we can try and give timelines since the invention of the first physical step ladder.

Ladders can also be linked to the ancient Greek and Egyptian cultures. It is assumed that the Egyptian slaves made ladders out of ropes and wood to reach the pyramid top while constructing the pyramids. These are the designs that have been enhanced to fit our modern-day ladders.

Today I’ll tell you the origin story of following ladders:

  • History of Step Ladders
  • History of Straight Ladders
  • History of Extension Ladders
  • History of Attic Ladders
  • History of Automatic Ladders
  • History of Fire Safety Ladders

Let’s explore who invented these ladders, history and how they evolved with time.

John.H.Balsley from Connellsville, Pennsylvania, was the brain behind the invention of the first folding step ladder in 1862, which later became an excellent invention for Ohio state.

John.H. Balsley was born on May 29, 1823, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. He, as well as his father, was a carpenter. In 1850, he moved to Ohio State, where he made the major invention.

john-h_-balsley
john-h_-balsley (source)

Step ladders were in existence for a while, but they were not foldable. Thus John Balsley enhanced this feature by adding hinges, making it easy to fold for storage convenience.

You might be wondering what necessitated this invention. Let me clear the doubts.
John Balsley was a carpenter; it proved necessary that he needed a ladder, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’

He died in 1895, having had significant successes in the business world.

The straight ladder is the earliest evidence of ladders. Traditionally, it was the most common type of ladders. It was made of ropes to act as steps for climbing. This type of ladders is still used in some countries today. They can also be made out of wood to make it stronger.

In 1930, Aluminium ladders were invented by ALCOA, an American based aluminum company, as a lighter alternative to the bulky and heavy wood ladders. Aluminum ladders have turned out to be the most used ladders by households, businesses, and various industries.

In the 19th century, aluminum was more valuable than gold due to the high prices for excavation. It was until discovering a cost-effective way to extract aluminum from its ores when aluminum became a popular building material and later advanced to making ladders.

Industrialist and inventor Henry Marcus Quackenbush gifted the world with the first extension ladder in 1867. Henry was born in New York, Herkimer, in the year 1847. He began an apprenticeship at the age of fourteen. At the age of sixteen, Henry Marcus invented the first extension ladder.

Marcus later founded a company in New York that produced air rifles and the sprint-joint nutcracker.

He died at the age of 86 in 1933.

Henry Marcus Quackenbush
Henry Marcus Quackenbush (Source)

Attic ladders were first invented as attic stairs in 1982 by Michael Burke, the founder of Stira Folding Attic Stairs Ltd. He spotted a niche while repairing imported attic stairs, and from there, the journey began. He later advanced to the production of attic ladders.

Michael Burke inventor of attic ladder
Michael Burke inventor of attic ladder (Source)

Michael had studied engineering, and therefore, the invention was a walk in the park. He died in 2010 at the age of 58 while on vacation in Portugal.

Automatic Ladder is invented in 1936 by Melvin Lewis of Michigan Ladder company. He made the first automatic lockset for standard safety.

Liar, Jeane-Pierre in 2010, later invented automatic attic ladders.

Joseph Richard Winters invented the first wagon mounted ladder for fire escape in 1878. In 1882, he advanced it to an affixed ladder that could be mounted on buildings.

Joseph was an African American inventor and abolitionist, a pride of his community.

Joseph Richard Winters inventor of fire escape ladder
Joseph Richard Winters inventor of fire escape ladder

Martin Stewart later bought Joseph’s company in 1971. The company moved from Deganwy Quay to Heavy sideYard in 1980.

From small enterprises to large corporations, ladder manufacturing companies selling different types of ladders today. And many more to come. Here’s some of the top manufacturer’s and their origin history.

  • Wing Enterprises
  • Werner co.
  • Top-rung Company
  • Bailey Ladders
  • Duo Safety Ladder Corporation
  • Wine Ladders
  • Jack’s Ladder Inc
  • Michigan Ladder
  • Bauer Corp.
  • Cotterman Rolling Company
  • FAKRO Ladder
  • Ladamax Ladder
  • Gorilla Ladders
  • Indalex Ladders
  • Keller Ladder
  • Green Bull Ladder
  • Babcock Ladder
  • Youngman Ladders

It’s history time now. let’s dive in and understand how ladder manufacturer’s have evolved with time.

Wing enterprise was founded in 1970 by Harold Ray Wing. He was born in 1940 in Springville, United States. The company produces giant ladder systems and convertible aluminum ladders. It is one of the largest manufacturers of ladders made in America.

Richard D Werner founded the Werner co. in 1922. Werner was born and raised in Ohio State in 1921. Werner’s company initially specialized in metal molds. In 1963, the company began production of fiberglass ladders.

Top-rung company, also known as Louisville ladder group, began operations in 1946 with David Hale as the company president. In 1961, they produced the first line of fiberglass extension ladders. In 1999, they built the first heavyweight ladder. It has grown to become the second-largest manufacturers of ladders in America. It mostly specializes in industrial products and contractors.

Bailey ladders in Australia was started by Bill Bailey senior in 1956. The company specialized in making safe ladders by reducing the twist of the frame. However, the company was sold to Hill Industries in December 1990 and later to Bailey ladders in June 2013.

Duo safety ladder began its operation by specializing in industrial step ladders, sectional ladders, and marine ladders, among many others. It began its operations in 1933 in Oshkosh. In 1988, it embarked fully on the production of Aluminum and Fiberglass ladders for fire safety.

Wibe Ladders was started by Victor Berg, the financier, and Anders wikstrand, the inventor that invented steel ladders. Anders Wikstrand was born in 1872 in Mora town. He later moved to the City, and upon return, he began a store that later advanced to Wibe ladders.

Victor Berg first came to Mora while at the age of 15, in 1886. He later joined wibe ladders started in 1929, as a financial advisor, in a small town called Mora but has since moved its operations to Nassjo.

Jack’s Ladder was started by John Smith in 1964 in California to improve the aluminum ladders. The company produces aluminum ladders, aluminum step ladders, fiberglass step ladders, tripod ladders, just to mention a few.

Michigan Ladder began operations as early as 1901, making them the oldest ladder manufacturing company in the USA. It was started by Melvin Lewis, A.G. Huston, and Edgar S. Geer in Huron River. They initially began by producing ladders and later included toys, boats, and ping pong tables. They then solely focused on the production of ladders. Their ladders have an extra feature to make them outstanding, such as the silk finish on wood ladders and the truss blocks added to the extension ladders.

Bauer Corp. was established in 1986 by Thomas E. Steiner. It was initially located in Marshville but later moved to Wooster in Ohio State. In 1930, J. K. Halderman and Harold G. Arnold joined the company. The company produces both fixed and flexible ladders in different materials such as aluminum, fiberglass, and wood. 

The Illinois based company was established in 1925. It first began by rolling wood track ladders and later advanced to rolling ladders in 1940. It now specializes in rolling ladders.

Ryszard Florek founded FAKRO in 1991 in Nowy Sacz, Poland. He had previously established a plant specializing in woodwork in Tymbark, his hometown. The company specializes in the production of roof windows and loft ladders.

Ladamax, an Australian company, was established in 1998. It specializes in the production of aluminum ladders and non-conductive fiberglass ladders. It seeks to promote local manufacturers and reduce the number of imported products.

Gorilla Ladders is an Australian and New Zealand based company that specializes in manufacturing ladders. It operates as a distributor in the Australian market.

Indalex is an Australian based company that manufactures high-quality aluminum ladders. The ladders are designed for both home use as well as industrial use. Indalex is made with stable features to increase both safety and security.

Keller ladder is specialized in the production of ladders suitable for household, minor repair works, and construction works. Werner bought Keller ladders in 1999 and has since then revolutionized their production to suit their target market.

Green bull mainly specializes in the production and distribution of ladders, alongside offering excellent customer service. It joined Werner co. in 2008, where it gained a significant advantage in the production and designing of ladders.

William Wallace Babcock established the Babcock company in 1905. Babcock was born in April 1841 in Griswold, Connecticut, USA. He was a soldier; he received an honor for his actions during the third battle of Petersung. It specializes in the production of all types of ladders.

Youngman Ladder was initially founded as WC Youngman Ltd by Charles Youngman in 1926. After the death of Youngman in 1967, SGB group PLC took over WC Youngman Ltd in 1969. SGB and Youngman merged to form SGB Youngman in 1992, which was later bought by Mowlem PLC and later by Harsco Corporation in 2000. The company was again renamed Youngman Group Limited in 2005, and in 2014, it was acquired by the Werner company making it part of the Werner family.

The company changed its name in 2018 to Werner UK Sales and Distribution Limited. The company now specializes in various types of ladders, such as; extension ladders, step ladders, combination ladders, and loft ladders.

Last Words

You all agree with me when I say that a ladder is notably one of the most essential and diverse tools. It can be used in a home setting, in the construction industry, in businesses among many other places since we at one point or another need to reach places but our height limits us.

Related:

  •  
    2.4K
    Shares
  •  
  • 339
  • 1.4K
  • 618
  • 91
  •  
>
Scroll to Top