From Recliners to Lift Chairs - A Brief History

Many times, we find ourselves so engrossed in the current moment that we tend to overlook the fascinating history behind the everyday products we use without a second thought. Take, for instance, recliners and lift chairs – they’re everywhere in our lives, yet few of us pause to consider who brought them into existence and why they were made in the first place. Looking into these origins not only adds depth to our appreciation of these items but also offers a glimpse into the problem-solving that have enriched our daily lives.



A recliner is an armchair or sofa that reclines when the occupant lowers the chair's back and raises its front. It’s incredibly popular and has been around for a very long time. The first recliner was invented near the end of the 1920s by cousins Edward Knabusch and Edwin Shoemaker, and by 1931 they were awarded a patent for their invention which eventually became the La-Z-Boy Recliner. Recliners are still popular to this day but pose difficulty for those with mobility issues as it is not easy to get out of their chair without help. It’s for these reasons that lift chairs were invented.

Did you know, it is said that the first known recliner can be traced back to Egypt where gods and goddesses used them to relax. While they might not look like the recliners we know today, it is said that they are an inspiration for the ones we now use.

Lift chairs

While a lift chair may resemble a regular reclining chair, it offers numerous advantages specifically designed for individuals with mobility limitations. Lift chairs were developed in the 1980s and look very similar to regular recliners. But while they look the same, they are different in terms of use. A lift chair is designed to make it possible for someone to sit in the chair and get out without assistance. It has an electrical lifting system which means it is easy to control without help and includes movement of the backrest and footrest.

The reason lift chairs are so popular is that it requires no back pressure to recline them, so they’re easier to use without extra strain on the body.

While lift chairs were only developed as we know them in the 1980s, it is said that one of the first lift chairs was a dentist chair from 1790 which included a feature that allowed the back and head reset to move to allow the doctor to see inside the patient’s mouth.

Lift chairs, however, are not a one-size-fits-all product and require careful consideration before selecting the right one for your home.

Since the inception of both recliners and lift chairs, they have remained popular and are now a common household item. Whether you’re using them purely for comfort or you need them for injury and mobility issues, you’ll easily find one that suits your needs.

We Specialise In Everything Mobility

At Equip U, we see a disability as a possibility and have made it our mission to go above and beyond the standard offerings from other retailers.

Our point of difference is that we don’t just stock mobility scooters and other accessories, but we also offer in-home trials to residents who live in Queensland and offer maintenance and servicing for any mobility products. We believe that access to this shouldn’t be limited based on where you live, and being NDIS registered, we can provide funding options as well. 

Ultimately, it’s our mission to work with you to bring your vision for improved mobility to life. Should you have any queries about the types of products we offer or how they work, or would like to schedule a free at home product demonstration, please get in touch with us today.