The Invention of Crampons
Crampons in some form have been around for many centuries. A page on the history of crampons by Grivel shows one type of crampon carved on the Arch of Constantine of Rome, built in 315 AD.
Crampon design took a major step forward in at the beginning of the twentieth century. At that time purists advocated against the use of crampons as making climbing the glaciers of the Alps too easy. In 1908 the British inventor and climber Oscar Eckenstein designed a pair of crampons with ten points and a hinge between a front frame and a rear frame. With Echenstein as an advocate the purists quickly lost the fight to ban crampon use.
Eckenstein's design was turned into reality by the Italian blacksmith Henry Grivel. Grivel made the Eckenstein design crampons, and they were so well received that many more were made. Grivel used the hardest steel he could find, and thus used railroad rails in the early years of crampon production. In 1929 Henry's son Laurent designed the 12 point crampon, with two points extending horizontally forward from the front of the boot, a design which proved tremendously popular. The photo below is a Grivel 12 point crampon which is essentially the Eckenstein design.