In this blog post, we wanted to write about something a little bit different. Typically, we talk about the replacement window products we sell or the window installation service we provide in the Pleasanton and Dublin, California area. But we thought it would be interesting to do a little digging and find out about the history of windows. Who were the first people to start putting windows in their homes? How have windows changed over time? And where did the word “window” even come from?
We found some interesting information about the history of windows—much more than we could recount here—and we hope you find it interesting as well!
The First Known Windows
The first “windows” were literally just holes in the walls or roofs of homes. Often, they were covered with animal hides, cloth, or wood to keep out the elements. Later, they were covered by wood shutters that could be opened and closed. Around the 14th century, materials like thinly sliced marble or animal horns that had been pounded out until they were thin and translucent were used to cover the openings in the walls and roofs, and in ancient Korea, Japan, and China, paper window coverings were more common. These materials let in some amount of light, while keeping the home somewhat weatherproof (at least more so than an open hole in the wall or roof). The materials used were typically held in place by frames made of wood or metal.
The English word “window” comes from the Old Norse word “vindauga,” which, translated literally, means “wind eye.” The word was first used in England in the early 13th Century to refer to an unglazed hole in a roof.
The word’s etymology may help explain why window professionals often call their industry the “glazing industry” rather than the “window industry.” Glazing refers to the glass, while the word “window” more accurately refers to the hole in the wall. However, today, the words “window” and “glazing” are somewhat interchangeable, but manufacturers will still often refer to their products as “glazing units” in their literature.
Window Glass Makes its Debut
The first recorded use of glass in windows was by the Romans in Alexandria around 100 AD. However, the glass used then had very little resemblance to the glass we know today. It was thick and had circular striations, and it provided very little visibility, but it was effective at letting in a good amount of light. Clear glass didn’t become available for more than 1,000 years, and glass windows weren’t common in the homes of ordinary citizens in Europe until the 17th century.
The Industrial Revolution paved the way for the large, modern windows we are familiar with today. During this time, machines were invented that could grind and polish glass, and the process of industrial plate glass making was greatly improved. Window frames were still made of wood and metal—it wasn’t until the late 20th century that window manufacturers started using materials like vinyl and fiberglass to improve their windows’ energy efficiency.
Replacement Windows Today
Today, there is an entire industry dedicated to windows. We have products that we’re sure were unimaginable to the early developers of windows—things like double and triple paned windows, large patio doors made with crystal clear glass, clear UV protection, and air-tight construction.
You probably have a lot of questions about replacement windows—there’s a lot that goes into them. Here at Custom Exchange, we’re happy to give you all of the information you need to make an informed decision about purchasing replacement windows for your Pleasanton or Dublin home. Contact us today to set up a consultation where you can have all your questions answered and receive a quote for replacement windows.