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.
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.
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.”