Trivia

Hard

The Inventor Of The Swivel Office Chair Is None Other Than?

Thomas Jefferson
Albert Einstein
Susan B. Anthony
Mark Twain
Photo of a modern day swivel office chair.
Brian Miller (Steelcase Werndl AG)/Wikimedia

Answer: Thomas Jefferson

All the way from the basement desk of a building manager to the top floor desk of a CEO, there’s something you’ll find at practically every desk in every office: a swivel chair. Whether it’s an old beat up office chair from a supply company or a premium ergonomic model with all the bells and whistles, office chairs are almost universally able to swivel in the middle, allowing the user to turn their body independently of the base of the chair.

This element of chair design, which is more than easy to take for granted today, was invented by none other than the American founding father and third U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson. Sometime before 1776 (as the chair is purported to have made an appearance when the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to draft the Declaration of Independence), Jefferson heavily modified an English-style Windsor chair such that it had a separated seat and supporting base linked by a central iron spindle. The seat of the chair swiveled on small casters like the kind used in rope-hung windows and allowed the user to freely turn around without rising or moving the base of the chair, just like modern swivel chairs.

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