A short history
For centuries there have been attempts to keep bees in boxes, with the combs fixed in frames. In the mid 19th century, Rev. L.L. Langstroth found a way of using the natural bee space to be able to remove frames from a box. Langstroth is often credited with discovering (I once heard a Master Beekeeper state that he invented it!) bee space, but clearly he didn't, he simply found a way of using it to the advantage of the beekeeper. Langstroth patented what he called the "moveable frame hive" in 1852, but it is thought he was working on it for several years before then.
Possibly due to the new invention there was huge progress made in beekeeping in the next 50 years, with many commercial beekeepers starting up, especially in the U.S. They wanted to make their enterprises profitable, so forced development of beekeeping equipment, including hives. In "Moveable Frame Hives" (top left) Brian P. Dennis has given a brief history of moveable frame hives. This is a fascinating topic that can be further researched. In particular some of the reasons for designing hives in certain ways and the discrediting of others and their designs is quite amusing.