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Although the Europeans eventually developed a similar design, this method of transportation did not exist until 1595  when an unknown inventor from Spain built one for King Phillip II. Although it was an elaborate chair having both armrests and leg rests, the design still had shortcomings since it did not feature an efficient propulsion mechanism and thus, requires assistance to propel it. This makes the design more of a modern day highchair or portable throne for the wealthy rather than a modern day wheelchair for the disabled. 
In 1655, Stephan Farffler , a 22 year old paraplegic watchmaker, built the world's first self-propelling chair on a three wheel chassis using a system of cranks and cogwheels.   However, the device had an appearance of a hand bike more than a wheelchair since the design included hand cranks mounted at the front wheel. 
In 1887, wheelchairs ("rolling chairs") were introduced to Atlantic City so invalid tourists could rent them to enjoy the Boardwalk. Soon, many healthy tourists also rented the decorated "rolling chairs" and servants to push them as a show of decadence and treatment they could never experience at home.