3 Earliest Forms of Door Technology

Discoveries of technology from old often leave archaeologists baffled and leave the rest of us amazed. Man made wonders are even more remarkable if you take into consideration the tools and resources civilizations had at their disposable. The discoveries are great but once you pull back the fabric and let curiosity roam free the mysteries that remain are often more interesting. Ancient civilizations are remarked to have been light years ahead of their time in regards to technological advancements and we are still trying to solve some ancient secrets such as Stonehenge.

Even an area such as doors which might not seem to be of interest throws up discoveries that make us question how civilizations were able to not only think of these gadgets but to have the power to build them. Here we look at 3 of the earliest forms of door technology. Think the automatic door was recent? Think again….

1. The Automatic Door

Automatic doors are powered open and closed either by electricity, spring, or both but according to Joseph Needham who studied the early forms of mechanical engineering the first instance of an automatic door was by the Greek scholar Heron of Alexandria. He created the earliest known automatic door in the 1st century CE during the era of Roman Egypt.

heron_oldest door technology

2. Foot Sensor Activated Door


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Motion sensors built into automatic doors are commonly associated with our technological advancements over the years although if you do your research you will find out that they arrived in their earliest form in China in 604-618.The first foot-sensor-activated automatic door was made in China during the reign of Emperor Yang of Sui (r. 604–618), who had one installed for his royal library.

emporer yang_oldest door technology

3. Automatic Gate Operators

Al Jazari was a prominent Muslim scholar, mathematician, inventor, mechanical engineer and craftsman around 1136-1206. Al Jarezi is credited with visualizing and creating the first automatic gate operators which were driven by hydropower. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, Leonardo da Vinci, the Italian inventor is believed to have been heavily influenced by the classic automation devices of Al-Jazari as he also created automatic home appliances and water wheels.

Al Jarazi above and one of his inventions, the hyrdo powered water raising machine.

It is breath taking to think of some of the ideas and concepts that were already being drawn up by scholars and inventors centuries ago. What we call “Technology” in today’s times was merely what some of the brightest minds centuries ago were doing. The only slight change would be that their inventions were to improve life rather than lifestyle and today’s consumer centric driven advancements.

This article was written by Sam Murray in association with Door Stop, Composite door manufacturers who are leading the way in providing the new generation of U Value doors to the trade and construction industry.

al jarazi_oldest door technology

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Posted by on October 29, 2010. Filed under History, Technology, The List. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to 3 Earliest Forms of Door Technology

  1. Great list! Pleased to see automatic doors getting some recognition :)

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