Have you ever wondered who first thought to put a window in a house? Or how windows have evolved over time to become the highly specialized building material that we know today? Maybe you don’t think about things like this, but being in the replacement window industry, we sometimes think about these things, so we thought we’d do a little research about the history of windows. We found some interesting facts that we thought we would share with you!
Where Did the Word “Window” Come From?
The English word “window” has an interesting etymology. It derives from the Old Norse (a Germanic language spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia between the 9th and 13th centuries) word “vindauga,” which literally means “wind eye.” The Swedish language, even today, uses the word “vindoga” to describe a hole through the roof of a hut.
The first recorded use of the English word “window” was in the early 13th century, and referred to an unglazed hole in a roof. It replaced the Old English word “eagpyrl,” which literally meant “eye hole.”
Given this history of the word window, it may help you understand why professionals in this industry don’t always refer to it as the “window industry,” since the word window more accurately refers to the hole in a building and not the glass unit. You may sometimes hear professionals call it the “glazing industry.” Glazing refers to the glass unit, as well as its installation, and is a more accurate term for the products we sell and what we, and other companies like ours, do. Having said that, however, the word “window” has become basically interchangeable with the “glazing” or “glass unit.”
From Hole in the Wall to Modern Windows
Windows have come a long way from where they began, which was literally as holes in a wall. These holes were later covered with animal hides, cloth, and wood, and then by wood shutters that could be opened and closed. This gave way around the 14th century to the use of translucent materials, like flattened animal horns and thin slices of marble, to cover the openings. These materials were often held in place by frames made of wood, iron, or lead. Paper window coverings were more common in ancient China, Korea, and Japan.
The Romans in Alexandria were the first known people to use glass in windows around the year 100 AD. The glass at this time was thick and had circular striations throughout it and definitely did not provide great visibility, although it did allow light to enter the home. It would be more than 1,000 years before clear glass as we now know it would become available.
By the 17th century, glass windows were common in the homes of ordinary citizens in England. The large, modern windows we’re now accustomed to seeing everywhere were made possible when the process of industrial plate glass making was perfected during the Industrial Revolution, when machines were available to grind and polish the glass.
Since then, glazing technology has only improved, giving us double, and even triple, paned windows with warm edge spacers and special gasses that fill the space between the panes. Window frame materials have also changed from wood and metal to the more popular and energy-efficient vinyl frames that are in the replacement windows we sell to our San Diego customers.
We’d be happy to give you more information about our energy-efficient replacement windows. Contact us to schedule your free, in-home consultation with one of our knowledgeable team members. You can have all of your questions answered about our products and the installation process, as well as receive a no-obligation quote on replacement windows for your San Diego home.