The History of the Standing Desk…Hundreds of Years in the Making

treadmill desk in house
To kick off standing desk week, here’s a little history lesson.

While treadmill desks are a recent phenomenon, standing desks have been around for hundreds of years. One of the earliest standing desk users was Leonardo da Vinci who was known to paint and work on his inventions while using an upright workstation.

In the 18th century, fine, handcrafted standing desks were symbols of wealth often used to spread out huge maps and documents for closer inspection. Napoleon Bonaparte was one famous leader of the time who worked at a standing desk.Standing Desk

In the 1800s, many offices were more likely to have communal desks than individual desks. Those communal desks often included standing-height desks. There is evidence that government bodies and other industries used standing desks with some regularity.

Communal Standing Desk
In 1899, a book entitled School Hygiene by Dr. Ludwig Wilhelm Johannes Kotelmann described the rationale behind upright workstations. He explained:
It has in late years been repeatedly suggested that even with the proper kind of desk much sitting is liable to injure the abdominal organs and the circulation. Desks have accordingly been proposed which can be arranged for standing as well as sitting.”
With the rise of technology in the workplace, including telegraphs, telephones, and later computers, standing desks began to fall out of use. In the past few years, however, we have reached a bit of a tipping point where the amount of time spent sitting has become so great that people are looking for ways to stand. Standing desks are making a comeback once again.

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