History of Windows
|History of Windows|
|The range of windows that are available today can be traced back to different historical events.|
Just as a home's windows can provide extensive information about the history of that home, the history of windows is interwoven in the history of domiciles.
 Window History
Today homeowners take the inclusion of windows in their home's architectural design for granted, but this was not always the case. Windows, whatever the type, have always added to the cost of building and maintaining a home, impacting on the ability of many people to include windows in their home's construction. Glass, which is used in almost all windows today, was not always widely available and individuals had to make do with other types of window coverings. Alternative window coverings are still used today in many areas of the world.
 Early Window History
From the time that people moved out of caves and into their own homes, windows have been integral components of a house's structure. Early windows were simply holes in the walls but the dwellers quickly learned that they could cover the holes with animal hide, flattened pieces of translucent animal horn, planks of wood, translucent marble or paper to keep out the weather elements. In many areas of the world people learned to build shutters that could be opened and closed at will.
 Glass Windows
Man began to make glass in Mesopotamia in 3500 B.C.E. but it only began to be used for window-making when the Romans started to manufacture glass in large quantities in the first century C.E. This glass was used for mosaics, jewelry and pottery decorations but the Romans quickly realized that glass could also serve as window coverings. The Romans colored a good portion of their glass and Christians included it in their Churches as part of stained glass window units.
By the 11th century glass the Germans learned how to make sheets of glass and the process was perfected in Venice in the 13th century when glass began to be manufactured on a large scale. Demand grew but glass windows were still reserved for royalty and other wealthy individuals. Flattened hand-blown glass that was ground and polished-- Crown glass -- was perfected by the French in the 14th century but other countries only learned the technique in the 17th century. Until the 19th century almost all glass windows were manufactured using the Crown glass technique but by the First World War a new type of glass manufacture, flat sheet glass, developed and was employed in the sash windows of the era. Since the 1950s almost all glass has been manufactured using the float glass technique as designed by Sir Alistair Pilkington in England. Other types of glass, including toughened, glass, safety glass, smart glass, strengthened glass windows and laminated glass are variations of float glass and are manufactured using float glass as the foundation of the manufacturing process.
 Window Tax
For many years windows were a sign of wealth or, at least, of well-being. A window tax was first introduced in England in the 17th century to assess, via the number of windows that there were in a house, the amount of tax that the homeowner should pay. The tax was based on the number of windows and the windows' sizes. Activists, specifically health activists, fought against the window tax because, they argued, encouraging people to build homes with fewer windows, to avoid the tax, tended to create damp, dark tenement conditions which were a source of disease and ill-health. In 1851 the tax was repealed and replaced by a house tax.