As we’ve had a long-standing interest in standing desks, we thought it fascinating to learn from the New York Times magazine that the modern office furniture craze has quite a long history. Here are some highlights on the timeline of standing desks that writer Daniel Engber discovered:

1797: Presbyterian minister Job Orton advises: “It must therefore be your resolute care to keep your body as upright as possible when you read and write; never stoop your head nor bend your breast. To prevent this, you should get a standing desk.”

1836: Minister and professor of rhetoric Ebenezer Porter claims the standing desk is a good remedy for “those who have the animal vigor to sustain the exhaustion it occasions.”

1858: A how-to book suggests that professionals practice penmanship on their feet — since “nearly half” of all business writing was done at standing desks.

Mid 19th Century: Inventors of the era file patents for bureaus that could be adjusted with cranks.

Another historic standing desk Engber overlooked was one designed and used by the ever-inventive and prolific Thomas Jefferson, featured in the photo above. (It, along with 13 other standing desks, can be seen on our previous post about standing desks and also on our ever-growing Standing Desks & Workspaces board at

Of course, as with nearly every article on any topic appearing in the New York Times, the writer was required to find an expert who would provide an opposing point-of-view to the virtues of the standing desk: Alan Hedge, a professor of human factors and ergonomics (yes, there is such a title) at Cornell, says that standing too much can cause varicose veins and musculoskeletal injuries.

If that’s something you fear, we recently featured a new office trend that might help.

Are you a standing desk (or, standup desk) fan? If so, share a comment about it below or send us a link to a photo of it so that we can add it to our Pinterest board.

(Photo via

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