A Quick Breakdown Of The Garage Door's History

Posted on: 6 January 2015


Many of the first cars ever produced came without roofs, which, if you know anything about cars, are very important. Dust, pollen, rain, sleet, hail, snow, leaves, and whatever else was floating in the air easily got inside the car while driving, let alone while stored.

And then, someone had a grand idea, why not invent something to protect cars while they were stored at night? That person was C.G. Johnson, and in 1921 he invented the garage door.

The Idea

Many of the first automobile owners owned large farms or came from prosperous families. They usually owned a lot of land. Because of that, some of them would store their vehicles in barns and carriage houses. That led to the materials in the car absorbing some of the unpleasant smells associated with barns, too.

So, because people had money, they had separate storage areas constructed for their cars. While the smells were gone, the elements still had no problem getting onto the car. So, Johnson invented something that people already had to keep the elements out of their homes — a door. He arranged a system of wood slats that would curve as people either lifted or dropped it into place.

Improving Upon the Idea

The only problem with his idea was that wood was heavy. Some of the older people struggled when operating them. When it was cold, or the weather was miserable, parents would send their kids or farmhands out to warm their cars for them. The kids couldn't raise them high enough. Again, the solution was simple — build swinging doors for the cars. This wasn't always practical though because of limited space or built up snow in the winter. Johnson capitalized on an opportunity and improved his idea by developing the electric garage door opener.

The problem with this was that people still had to step out of their cars to operate them. Not a bad thing when the weather's nice, but horrible when the rain and snow are coming down in sheets. However, two other people gave Johnson a break and developed radio-controlled devices that lifted the doors with the press of a button. (Oddly enough, they both invented the device around the same time from different parts of the country without knowing the other was doing the same.)

Into Today

Over time, lighter, stronger materials with better insulating and damage resistant technologies were developed. However, that doesn't stop them from breaking or needing repair. So, the next time you call a company like Kim's Garage to fix or install your garage door, drop C.G. Johnson's name and see if they know that he's part of the reason for their profession.