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Otis Elevator Company


1854 (Yonkers, New York, United States


Farmington, Connecticut, United States


Elisha Otis


Otis Elevator Company is the world's largest manufacturer of vertical transportation system. The company was founded in Yonkers, New York, USA by Elisha Otis, who invented the safety mechanism of the elevator should the hoisting rope break.[1] This was created due to an accident with a freight lift at an local factory that injured the people using it.


Otis was founded by Elisha Otis in New York, NY, USA, after he demonstrated the special safety elevator mechanism in the Crystal Palace Exhibition in New York City in 1854.
Elisha G. Otis

Elisha G. Otis

By the end of 1856, Otis had sold more than 40 elevators, all freight models. In 1857, the world's first passenger elevator was installed at E. V. Haughwuot & Company in New York, NY.

In 1861, Otis' elevator safety brake was patented.


Otis safety brake patent

After Elisha Otis died of diphtheria in 1861, the company was continued under his two sons Charles and Norton. Soon, the company was renamed to "Otis Brothers Co." with Charles as the company's president.

Otis elevator demonstration 1854

Demonstration of elevator safety system in Crystal Palace New York.

In 1868, Otis developed a steam-powered passenger elevator and in 1870, the company introduce a water-pressured hydraulic elevator.

In 1875, Otis invented the elevator governor.

In the 1880s, Otis has established branch offices in London and Paris, and had installed elevators in the Eiffel Tower, London Underground, Glasgow Harbour Tunnel, etc.

In 1889, Otis installed the first 2 elevators of the first sucessful electric elevator model at the Demarest Building in New York, NY.

In 1892, Otis installed the first elevators with the Unit Multi-Voltage (formerly called Ward Leonard) principal, for smoother ride quality.

Otis invented the automatic elevator in 1894.

Otis developed the escalator technology in 1895 and was introduced it in the Paris Exposition in 1900, a step type escalator. After that, the same escalator was installed in a department store in Pittsburgh, PA (Possibly Kaufmann's).

In 1898, Otis greatly contributed to the high speed water hydraulic elevator.

Otis also made another type of escalator, called the cleat type escalator. This type was probably not popular, and was made for only maybe 20 years.

Otis invented the gearless traction elevator in 1902. The first commercial installation was at the Majestic Theater in Chicago, IL.

Otis invented the geared traction elevator in 1908. The cable wrapped around the motor multiple times.

Otis invented the modern style geared traction elevator in 1911. Now, the cable only goes over the motor. This technology is still used today.

In 1911, Otis installed their first elevator in Germany.

In 1915, Otis invented the self-leveling elevator, which they called the Micro-Drive.

In 1924, Otis introduced a high speed semi-automatic elevator, called Signal-Control.

Around 1924, Otis made their first modern style automatic door.

In 1925, Otis introduced Collective-Control, the first ever selective-collective elevator system. This might have been the first Otis elevator model with fully automatic doors, but it is unconfirmed if this system always used automatic doors.

In 1931, a double-deck elevator was introduced by Otis. The first one was installed in the Empire State Building in New York, NY.

Possibly in the 1930s, Otis started using steel steps for escalators.

In 1948, Otis introduced a high speed fully automatic elevator, called Autotronic. Now, elevator operators were completely obsolete.

On July 7, 1976, after a hostile take over, Otis became a wholly owned subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

Otis purchased UK's oldest elevator company Express Lift Co. Ltd. of Northampton as well as Evans Lifts of Leichester in 1997. Later, both companies merged together to form "Express Evans".

In 2000, Otis introduced its machine-roomless elevator product, Gen2, which uses flat polyurethane belts instead of conventional steel cables.

Otis introduces it's destination dispatch system called "Otis Compass" which is similar to Schindler Miconic 10 elevators.

In 2013, Otis launched a new residential Gen2 Switch elevator that eliminates the need for three phase power, is solar-power capable, and uses battery technology to continue to run when the power goes out.[2]


Otis has its headquarters in Farmington, Connecticut, USA and has major manufacturing facilities in America, Europe, and Asia. They have ten research centers globally, and six area headquarters located in:

  • Farmington, Connecticut, USA
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Paris, France
  • London, England
  • Philippines
  • Shanghai, China
  • Singapore

Otis also have two tallest test towers. One is the Bristol Test Tower located in Connecticut, USA with a height of 384 ft (117 m), and another one is the Shibayama Test Tower located in Shibayama, Japan with a height of 505 ft (154 m). The Shibayama Test Tower is currently Otis's tallest test tower.

Notable acquisitions

Notable elevator installations

Main article: List of notable Otis elevator installations

Notable products


Signal-Control was the world first semi-automatic relay logic controlled elevator system from 1924.


Collective-Control was the world first automatic relay logic controlled elevator system from around 1924. This system had automatic doors, and most likely 5 speeds. This system did not support very high speed applications.

Autotronic elevators

Main article: Otis Autotronic

The Autotronic (automatic electronic) elevators are automatic programmed elevators introduced in 1948. Unlike the earlier push-button models (Signal Control), these elevators were large, fast, and could change speeds and adjust their schedules to suit traffic demands, bypassing floors when fully loaded.

Elevonic 101

Main article: Otis Elevonic 101

The Elevonic 101 was the first completely micro-processor-based elevator control system. It was introduced in 1979.

Elevonic 401

Main article: Otis Elevonic 401

The second product of the Elevonic class, the Elevonic 401 was the first "human-engineered" elevator with synthesized speech, information display and security system. It was introduced in 1981.

Remote Elevator Monitoring

Also known as REM, a diagnostic system for checking elevator performance from a distant location. It was introduced in 1986.

Elevonic 411 and 311

Both models were introduced in 1989 and were the most advanced elevator systems in the world. A year later, the modernization series for both models (411M and 311M) were launched.

Otis 2000

Main article: Otis 2000

Otis 2000 was a series of elevator models produced for the European market. It was launched in 1993.

Otis Skyway

Skyway was the first AC gearless elevator in the world with large load capacity and Double Deck elevator (1998). This product have another name called "Super Double-Deck Elevator System (Chinese: 超級雙層升降機系統)".

Otis SkyRise

Main article: Otis Skyrise

SkyRise is Otis's high speed gearless elevator for high-rise buildings.

Otis Gen2

Main article: Otis Gen2

Otis Compass and CompassPlus

Main article: Otis Compass

Compass is Otis' destination dispatch system.

Otis SkyBuild

SkyBuild[5] is Otis's self-climbing elevator system used during construction where the elevator climbs one floor at a time as the building rises. Each jumps can be accomplished between shifts, thus reducing impact on other trades. Once the building is completed, the permanent elevator is put into service as Otis SkyRise. This system is very similar to Kone JumpLift.


Accidents and incident

  • On 13 May 2003, an upward escalator at City Hall MRT station, Singapore suddenly reversed, flinging some 20 people on it backwards, including a woman who was pregnant.
  • On July 24, 2009, a group of 8 people were trapped for 8 hours in an Otis elevator in Toronto. A repair man who tried to fix the elevator fell more then 20 floors to his death.
  • On December 14, 2010, an Otis escalator installed in the International Trade station of Shenzhen Metro Line 1 retrograded without notice, causing 25 passenger injures.
  • On July 5, 2011, an Otis 513MPE escalator installed at Beijing Subway Line 4 Zoo Station escalator changed direction without notice, causing 30 people to fall. One boy was killed and 27 people injured, prompting China to halt the use of the escalator model.
  • In February 2007, the European Union regulators fined Otis Elevator 225 million Euros for being part of a price-fixing cartel. Other manufacturers such as ThyssenKrupp, Schindler, Kone and Mitsubishi Elevator Europe were also fined similar amounts in the same cartel.


  • In Japan, Otis elevators are often called Nippon OTIS and some of their elevators are often branded as National OTIS.
  • Otis has also dabbled in horizontal automated people-mover "shuttle" systems, such as the Otis Hovair.
  • In Israel, Otis elevators are distributed by Electra.




Landing sills nameplates



AMAZING OTIS Series 1 Hydraulic Elevator @ Lexus, San Diego, CA-002:39

AMAZING OTIS Series 1 Hydraulic Elevator @ Lexus, San Diego, CA-0

Otis hydraulic elevator with Series 1 fixtures in Lexus, San Diego, CA, United States of America


  1. The Secret Life of the Lift (Secret Life Of Machines Series 3 (1993) by Tim Hunkin) - YouTube
  2. Otis launched new residential solar-powered Gen2 elevator
  3. Becker Lift Company in Beno Lift Guide
  4. Originally a distributor of Otis elevators and escalators in Indonesia from 1964 until 1992. Both companies then had a joint venture and in 1995, it was taken over by Otis and now known as PT. Citas Otis Elevator.
  5. Otis SkyBuild brochure
  6. Merged with Xizi Elevator Group in 1997. It is one of Otis's largest subsidiary companies.
  7. Established in 2001 as a result of merger between Otis and LG Elevator in 1999. Sigma is a subsidiary of Otis Elevator Korea and a brand of South Korea manufactured-Otis elevators for overseas market.
  8. Express Introduction - EXPRESS

See also

External links


News Report

List of elevator and escalator companies

Major companies: DoverExpress LiftFujitecHyundaiKoneMitsubishiOtisSchindlerSigmaThyssenthyssenkrupp

Other/smaller/historic companies: Access Elevator & LiftsAmtechA&P. StevenAnlevArmorASEAAsea GrahamAtlas (Brazil)Atlas (Northern California)Automobile Rotary Lift Co.Axel LiftsBennie LiftsBoralCNIMDaldossDeveDiebold AufzügeDong YangDopplerElectraElevators Pty. Ltd.ElexEllis & McDougallEvans LiftsFalconiFiamGeneral (CA, older)GiantGoldStarGuangriHammond & ChampnessHaughtonHaushahnHavemeier & SanderHitachiIFEIGVIndoliftInter-UpIsraliftJ&E HallJohns & WaygoodKfirKleemannKoppel A.W.LGMANMarryat & ScottMiamiMontgomeryMorris VermaportMP LiftsNipponOmegaOrenstein & KoppelOrona/Electra VitoriaPaynePickerings LiftsPneumatic Vacuum ElevatorsR. StahlReliableRheinstahlSabiemSchlierenSeabergSEC ElevatorsSergeShenyang BrilliantSITESSJECStaleyStannahTechnosThymanToshibaU.S. ElevatorVýtahy OstravaWaygood & Co.WestinghouseXJYungtayZREMB

Subsidiary elevator companies: ChevalierExpress EvansGiantKONEHaushahnHostingLiftmaterialMacGregorMashibaShanghai MitsubishiSigmaXizi Otis

Merging brand or joint venture elevator companies: LG-OTISKone Marryat ScottMontgomery KONESchindler HaughtonThyssen DoverThyssenKrupp Dongyang

Wheelchair/platfom lift companies: Access Elevator & LiftsAritcoCibes Lift (Kalea LiftsNTD Lifts) • IGVMotala HissarSavaria Concord

Temporary elevator companies: Alimak HekRECOUSA Hoist

Third-party elevator component companies: AdamsArkelC. E. ElectronicsC.J. AndersonDewhurst (ERM) • DMG (Mad) • ECIEpcoESIEverbrightGALHollister-WhitneyInnovation IndustriesJinlixLiSALanger & LaumannLester ControlsMagnetekMCEMonitorPTLSalientSchaeferSematic GroupSTEPTVCWittur Group/SelcomMore...

Other than above are marked as third-party elevator maintenance companies.

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