This is a very interesting question and one that is posed over at this website. There are just a few responses but maybe you can add to the discussion by giving your thoughts.
One person posts:
Without the gearless elevator (circa 1903), 100 story buildings would not have been possible. Electromagnet technology replaced manual rope-driven switching and braking and safety was improved. Today, there are intricate switching schemes to carefully control cab speeds in any situation. Virtually all commercial elevators operate automatically and the computer age has brought the microchip-based capability to operate vast banks of elevators with precise scheduling, maximized efficiency and extreme safety.