American Forklift Scale

When did we start using forklifts?

antique forklift

The forklift is an interesting invention. It’s interesting in the sense that, it’s obviously a modern innovation. But unless you are in the know, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how long they have been around. Well, wonder no longer: The first forklifts showed up in the late 1800’s, possibly even as early as the mid 1800’s. That may seem quite impressive, but bear in mind that these early forklifts were unpowered. They relied on pulleys, hoists, and human power to operate. That may seem like a far cry from today’s forklifts (and, it is), but it was a huge improvement from carrying and lifting material by hand.


The first forklift to run on its own power was battery powered, and moved luggage around a train station in Pennsylvania in 1906. More powered forklifts really started to take off during World War I. The military apparently didn’t think it was very effective to hoist bombs up with pulleys (though it’s still hard sometimes for some forklift operators today). These first powered forklifts looked like the one in the picture above. You’ll notice they didn’t have the fork in forklift yet, because pallet sizes had not been standardized yet.


Hopefully this has laid to rest the question that has been surely burning within you regarding the genesis of the modern forklift.


How hard is it to drive a forklift?
Don’t get left out in the rain!