Early Crane Evolution
The very first recorded concept or type of a crane was used by the early Egyptians over 4000 years ago. This apparatus was referred to as a shaduf and was used to transport water. The crane was made out of a long pivoting beam which balanced on a vertical support. On one end a bucket was connected and on the other end of the beam, a heavy weight was attached.
Cranes that were built in the first century were powered by humans or by animals that were moving on a wheel or a treadmill. The crane consisted of a wooden long beam that was called a boom. The boom was attached to a base that rotates. The wheel or the treadmill was a power-driven operation which had a drum with a rope that wrapped around it. This rope also had a hook which lifted the weight and was attached to a pulley at the top of the boom.
Cranes were used extensively throughout the Middle Ages to make the enormous cathedrals in Europe. These devices were also designed to unload and load ships within major ports. Over time, major developments in crane design evolved. For example, a horizontal boom was added to and became known as the jib. This boom addition allowed cranes to have the ability to pivot, therefore really increasing the range of motion for the machinery. Following the 16th century, cranes had incorporated two treadmills on each side of a rotating housing which held the boom.
Cranes used animals and humans for power until the mid-19th century. This all changes rapidly when steam engines were developed. At the turn of the century, electric motors as well as IC or internal combustion engines emerged. Cranes also became designed out of cast iron and steel as opposed to wood. The new designs proved longer lasting and more efficient. They could obviously run longer also with their new power sources and therefore carry out bigger tasks in less time.