The Evolution of the Door
From Cave Dwelling to Rocket Ship
Have you ever thought about how many times your hard working ’front door’ opens and closes during a normal day in the life of your busy family? And I’m not talking about that tiny rectangular swing door that’s collecting cobwebs. (The one that only unwelcome door-to-door marketers and unexpected long-lost-family use!) Nope—we’re talking about the rolling giant at the front of your house—the garage door: the new front door.
In the popular comic culture of Johnny Hart’s prehistoric world of ‘BC’, our fascination with cars and trucks dates from the character Thor’s invention of the wheel. We can only speculate that our neolithic forefathers parked their granite ‘wheels’ in a dry cave. The original ‘garage door’ might have been fashioned from the smelly and roughly hewn hide of an unfortunate sabre-toothed cat—hung across the natural cave opening. The hairy pelt may have served as a badge of hunting prowess, but was aesthetically challenging; and while the innovation may have offered rudimentary isolation from the elements, it accorded only minimal security from roaming predators!
The Bronze Age Hinge
With the advancement of civilization, the evolution of the front door moves in lockstep with the invention and development of the common hinge. The very first metal hinges were fabricated during the Bronze Age approximately 5500 years ago. But metalworking was labour intensive and expensive. And so only emperors and priests and the ruling class were likely to boast hinged swing doors.
Middle Ages Wrought Iron
During the thousand year span of the Middle Ages, metalworking knowhow advanced in leaps and bounds. With the ongoing development and refinement of wrought iron smelting bloomeries, the upper-classes could build castles with drawbridges, and churches with large scale load bearing hinges that could pivot massive oak entry doors. Wrought iron hardware became cheap and plentiful. And so the common people too could now purchase ‘hinges’ for their own modest front doors.
The Modern Age Garage
The word “garage” first appeared in an English dictionary in 1902, derived from the French verb “garer” which means to cover or shelter. The very first recognizably modern garage doors soon followed. These were often one-piece swing doors, operated by chains and pulleys and counterweights. The first electric garage door opener was invented in Hartford City, Indiana, in 1926, by C.G. Johnson. About a decade later, Leno Martin is credited with inventing the first one-piece overhead type garage door. The post-World War II era saw the advancement and growth in popularity of the modern sectional roll up residential garage door.
Space Age Doors
In 1969 Neil Armstrong’s “front door” was a 32 inch steel hatch that opened inward. This made sense because if the hinges or latch failed, the only thing holding the door closed was the interior air pressure! After Neil parked his rocket on the Sea of Tranquility the door worked liked an engineering marvel—and the astronaut was able to utter those immortal words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
21st Century Technology
To call todays garage door a “modern miracle” might be overstated. But the new “front door” of the modern urban age is a surprisingly complex electromechanical system; with it’s own dedicated CPU, DC motor, torsion springs, photosensors, and even online smart-app controls. When you count up all the hour-by-hour comings and goings from your own house-with your partner leaving for work, kids grabbing their bikes, or teenaged driver heading off to school—it’s nearly a miracle that the garage door stays on it’s tracks!
If your home truly is your castle, then your garage door is the “drawbridge” of safe passage. When you consider that your garage door is critical to your daily schedule, you would be well advised to give some thought into pre-booking regular annual maintenance. So don’t wait until your garage door fails to open. Call a reputable garage door company for regular service.