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Did You Know? The Surprising History of Automatic Doors

Step into the Future: Uncovering the Fascinating Story Behind Automatic Doors

Did You Know? The Surprising History of Automatic Doors

When Were Automatic Doors Invented?

Automatic doors have become a common feature in modern architecture, making entry and exit of a building more convenient. But, have you ever wondered when automatic doors were invented? Let's take a look at the history of doors and how automatic doors have evolved over time.

Early History of Doors

Doors have been used for thousands of years and have evolved from very basic structures to sophisticated ones. The ancient Egyptians and Greeks used doors made of wood, stone, and animal hides. These doors were designed with simple hinges and were easy to open and close. As civilization progressed, so did the design of doors.

During the Medieval period, doors became more elaborate, with intricate designs and added security features such as locks and bolts. This made doors more difficult to open and close, and there was a need for a more advanced system of door operation.

First Automatic Doors

The first automatic doors were invented in the 1st century AD by a Greek engineer named Heron of Alexandria. These doors were powered by fire and used in temples and palaces. The doors were designed to open when a fire was lit, and the heat from the fire would create pressure that would move the doors. These doors were considered the first automatic doors, and their mechanism paved the way for future designs.

However, it took several centuries before automatic doors would become a reality again. In 1888, a man named H. H. Benedict filed a patent for a mechanical door operator. His design involved using a pneumatic system that used compressed air to open the doors. However, his design was never widely used.

Electric Automatic Doors

Electric automatic doors were first invented in the early 20th century. The first patent for an electric automatic door was issued in 1904 to a man named H. Bockhacker. However, it wasn't until the 1930s that automatic doors became more widespread.

During this time, the aviation industry was growing, and there was a need for a more efficient way to open and close airplane hangar doors. In 1931, the Horton Automatics Corporation developed the first electric automatic door using a photoelectric cell that could detect motion. The door would open when a person approached it and close when they walked away.

As automatic door technology continued to evolve, it began to be used in other industries, including retail stores, hospitals, and transportation hubs. One of the most significant developments in automatic door technology was the invention of the sliding door in the 1960s. This made it possible for a large group of people to enter and exit a building simultaneously, making it more convenient and efficient.


The invention of automatic doors has revolutionized the way we enter and exit buildings. From the early designs that used fire to the sophisticated electric sliding doors we have today, automatic doors have come a long way. With the advancement of technology, it is safe to say that there will be more innovations in the future that will make automatic doors even more intelligent and efficient.

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When Were Automatic Doors Invented?

Automatic doors have revolutionized the way people enter and exit buildings. Today, they are a common feature in most commercial buildings, airports, hospitals, shopping malls, and many other public spaces. But when were automatic doors invented, and how do they work? In this article, we will explore the history of automatic doors and how they operate.

The Evolution of Automatic Doors

The concept of automatic doors has been around for centuries. In ancient Greece, large stone doors were used in temples and other important buildings. These doors were operated by slaves or other servants who would manually push or pull the heavy doors to open and close them. From the ancient Greeks to modern times, the need for automatic doors has continued to grow.Automatic doors, as we know them today, were invented in the mid-20th century. The first commercially available automatic doors were developed in the United States in the 1950s. These doors were called "automatic sliding doors" and were installed in the entrance of a supermarket in Pennsylvania in 1954.

How Do Automatic Doors Work?

Automatic doors use a combination of sensors, actuators, and control systems to detect movement and open and close the door. Let's take a closer look at each of these components.


Most automatic doors use sensors to detect when someone is approaching. These sensors are typically mounted above the door and use infrared or microwave technology to detect movement. When someone approaches the door, the sensors send a signal to the control system, which activates the door to open.


Once the sensors detect movement, they send a signal to the door's actuators. These are the motors that power the door, and they're usually located at the top of the door frame. The actuators use gears or belts to move the door along a track, allowing it to slide open and closed.

Control Systems

Finally, the door's control system processes the signals from the sensors and sends commands to the actuators. This includes opening and closing the door, as well as adjusting its speed and force. In addition to controlling the door's movement, the control system also monitors the environment around the door to ensure safety. For example, if someone is standing too close to the door as it's closing, the control system will sense the obstruction and open the door to prevent injury.

The Advantages of Automatic Doors

Automatic doors offer many benefits over traditional manually operated doors. For one, they provide easy access for people with disabilities. Automatic doors are also more hygienic, as people don't need to touch the door handle to enter or exit a building. They also regulate temperature and improve energy efficiency by preventing drafts and keeping the interior of the building at a more consistent temperature.

The Future of Automatic Doors

As technology continues to evolve, the future of automatic doors looks promising. There are already new developments such as facial recognition technologies, which automatically unlock doors when a person's face is recognized. Additionally, there are sensors being developed that can detect a person's mood and adjust the speed and force of the door accordingly.In conclusion, automatic doors have come a long way since their invention in the mid-20th century. They have made entering and exiting buildings easier and more accessible for millions of people around the world. With advancements in technology, we can only imagine what the future holds for this remarkable technology.

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Types of Automatic Doors

Automatic doors have become a common sight in buildings, creating ease of access and convenience for people. The first automatic door was invented by two inventors who wished to solve a major issue facing businesses, making it easier for customers to enter and exit their establishments. The invention of the automatic door paved the way for the development of various types of automatic doors available in the market today. In this section, we'll explore the three most common types of automatic doors.

Sliding Doors

Sliding doors are the most popular automatic door type. The first sliding doors were developed in the 1950s and were used mainly in commercial and industrial settings such as factories and warehouses. Today, they're commonly found in retail stores, airports, and hospitals due to their efficiency and ease of use. The sliding doors operate by moving horizontally along a track, enabling people to move in and out of a building quickly without the need to push or pull the door. They often use sensors to detect motion and automatically open for people who approach them. These doors are also popular in buildings with limited space where there’s no room for doors that swing open.

Swinging Doors

Swinging doors are another type of automatic door and are a popular choice for buildings with high traffic and where energy efficiency is key. Swinging doors have been in use since 1931, and they operate just like traditional doors, except that they're powered by sensors or touchpads instead of being manually opened. Swinging doors come in single or double doors and often feature sensors that detect motion and automatically open the door when someone approaches it. These doors are popular in hotels, offices, and schools where security and privacy are important.

Revolving Doors

Revolving doors are the most complicated type of automatic doors. They feature a rotating cylinder and use a motor to rotate the doors. The doors are often found in high-traffic areas, such as shopping malls, train stations, and airports. Revolving doors, popularly known as "patented storm door structure," were invented in 1888 by Theophilus Van Kannel, a Philadelphia inventor. They’re generally considered more energy-efficient than other types of automatic doors because they prevent the exchange of air between the interior and exterior climates. Even though they are a more expensive option, they prevent the entry of wind, debris, and dust. And with more advanced sensors and security systems, their popularity has increased in the last few decades.

In conclusion, automatic doors provide safety, easy accessibility, and convenience in buildings. These popular doors come in various types and iterations, each with its unique benefits and drawbacks. Depending on the building's needs, architects and building owners can choose the most suitable automatic door type that best serves its purpose.

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The Advantages of Automatic Doors

Automatic doors are a common feature in many public places, such as shopping malls, hospitals, airports, and office buildings. As their name suggests, these types of doors open and close automatically, without the need for manual intervention. In this article, we will explore the history and development of automatic doors, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

The Invention of Automatic Doors

The idea of automatic doors dates back to the early 20th century. The first recorded patent application for an automatic door dates back to 1904, by a man named H. Bockhacker. However, it wasn't until the 1950s that the first practical automatic door was developed. The invention of the microprocessor in the 1970s paved the way for more sophisticated and reliable automatic doors.

The Advantages of Automatic Doors


One of the main advantages of automatic doors is their convenience. They make it easier for people to enter and exit buildings, especially those with disabilities. This is because automatic doors do not require any physical effort to open, and they do not require a person to hold them open either. They can be operated with a simple push button or motion sensor, which makes them accessible to everyone.

Energy Efficiency

Another advantage of automatic doors is their energy efficiency. Automatic doors can help reduce energy costs by opening and closing only when needed. This prevents drafts and helps maintain a more consistent temperature inside the building. Additionally, some automatic doors are equipped with sensors that detect the presence of people and adjust the speed and timing of the door accordingly.

Safety and Security

Automatic doors can also improve safety and security. They reduce the risk of door-related accidents, such as people getting their fingers caught in the door. Automatic doors are also more secure than manual doors, as they can be equipped with access control systems that restrict entry to authorized personnel only. Additionally, some automatic doors are equipped with remote monitoring systems that allow security personnel to monitor the movement of people in and out of the building.


Automatic doors also offer a significant advantage in terms of cleanliness. They reduce the need for regular door handle cleaning, which is especially important in public spaces. Studies have shown that door handles can harbor a multitude of germs and bacteria, which can be easily transmitted from one person to another. Automatic doors help reduce the spread of germs and bacteria by eliminating the need for people to touch the door handles.

The Disadvantages of Automatic Doors

While automatic doors offer many advantages, they also have some disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages of automatic doors is their cost. Automatic doors can be expensive to install and maintain, especially if they require specialized sensors and access control systems. Additionally, automatic doors require electricity to operate, which can lead to high energy costs if they are not properly designed and maintained.Another disadvantage of automatic doors is their reliability. Automatic doors can be prone to malfunction, especially if they are not properly maintained. This can lead to costly repairs and downtime for the building. Additionally, in the event of a power failure, automatic doors may not function at all, which can be a safety issue in emergency situations.


In conclusion, automatic doors offer many advantages, such as convenience, energy efficiency, safety and security, and cleanliness. They have come a long way since their invention in the 1950s, and they continue to evolve with new advancements in technology. However, they also have some disadvantages, such as cost and reliability issues. Ultimately, the decision to install automatic doors should be based on the specific needs and requirements of the building.

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