Step Back in Time to Learn About The History of Automatic Doors

March 09, 2023

History of Automatic Doors

We benefit a lot from them today, but the history of automatic doors may surprise you.

Automatic doors have made life much easier for many of us. It is the perfect way to assist those with disabilities or anyone with a full load to carry in and out of their home, office building, or grocery store.

Although we all benefit from using automatic doors today, it may be a surprise that many believed the first ones were used to open temple gates in Ancient Greece back in the first century A.D.

What Is an Automatic Door?

An automatic door is often installed in commercial buildings that see a lot of daily foot traffic. These doors are made to open and close on their own through various mechanical operations.

When Were Automatic Doors Invented?

There is reason to believe that the first automatic door was established in the early first century A.D. and used to open temple gates. This comes from writings found by a Greek engineer and mathematician, Heron of Alexandria. Heron documented how automatic door-adjacent mechanisms were used to open these heavy doors.

It wasn’t until the 17th century that we saw more information regarding using automatic doors, which were foot-activated and developed in China.

According to Joseph Needham’s book written in 1986, “Science and Civilization in China,” Emperor Yang of Sui created a foot sensor-activated door to enter and exit the royal library.

When Did We Start Using Automatic Doors?

The modern-day automatic doors we commonly use today were developed in 1954 and invented by two Americans, Lew Hewitt and Dee Horton.  

They first installed their creation in Corpus Christi, Texas, after learning about the troubles people were having while using swinging doors in the typical heavy winds known to residents of this area. They sold the first automatic sliding door in America in 1960. 

How Do They Work?

Some of the first sets of automatic doors were activated by a floor mat actuator that would signal the automatic door system to open once pressure was applied.  Over the years and as automatic doors became more popular other ways to activate commercial doors began to emerge.

It wasn’t long before pneumatic-powered doors, electric floor mats, and motion-activated doors became widespread.

What Are the Different Types of Automatic Doors?

Automatic doors, also called auto doors, now come in various options and work in multiple ways.

The most popular and commonly used include: Some doors are ideal for traffic coming in and out, like bi-parting or folding doors, while others are for one direction only, like the swinging or revolving doors. 

Who Should Use Automatic Doors?

According to research, most customers express a preference for automatic doors when visiting places such as:  According to research, 98% of customers prefer visiting buildings that use automatic doors.  Customers show a significant desire for automatic doors to be installed even in places they don’t visit regularly, like post offices and doctors’ offices.

Why Are Automatic Doors Preferred to Non-Automatic?

There are many reasons that people prefer automatic doors over manual options. These reasons have everything to do with convenience, ease of use and reducing the spread of germs. 

The advantages of using auto doors is that they can assist people in many different situations depending on the facility they are installed in. 
  • Airports: Having auto doors in airports assists those with children, luggage, and the need to get to their destination quickly.
  • Doctors’ offices and hospitals: Automatic doors are ideal in healthcare facilities because they can assist those who would otherwise have trouble opening the door due to a physical ailment or because they use a wheelchair or other medical device.
  • Stores and malls: Automatic doors at shopping centers make it easier for those with shopping carts, armloads of purchases, and anyone trying to navigate with a stroller, wheelchair, or while holding onto a child’s hand.
It seems automatic doors are a game-changer for so many, including people with disabilities, seniors, children, and anyone with a lot to carry and no free hands for opening doors.

Automatic doors are also essential for making buildings ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. 

How Much Does It Cost to Put in an Automatic Door?

Automatic doors are a valuable asset and investment to any business. The installation of these doors is affordable for nearly every commercial and Industrial setting.

The exact cost to install these types of doors varies depending on multiple factors. It is best to contact a local professional to get a tailored quote for your specific needs.

Consider Installing Automatic Doors Today

Make life easier for everyone coming and going from your facility by installing automatic doors. They make foot traffic easier and make your building look more professional and welcoming. Contact Door Services Corporation today.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


Your expert partner for pedestrian door service and installation, our company was built on quality products and long-term customer partnerships. We are a member of the American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers. Our AAADM certified technicians have over 50 years of product knowledge. We service and repair all doors and windows models of all automatic door manufacturers.

24/7 emergency service is available to meet your after hour needs in our designated coverage areas:
  • Advanced Door Automation services North Carolina and east to the coastal regions
  • Advanced Door Service services Eastern Pennsylvania, Virginia, DC, Baltimore and Northern Georgia
  • Allegheny Door Enterprises services Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia
  • Automatic Door Enterprises services Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas
  • Del-Mar Door Service services Delaware
  • Door Controls services Louisiana
  • Eastern Door Service services greater New Jersey area
  • Texas Access Controls services Dallas, Houston, Austin and Corpus Christi, Texas areas
  • Horton Automatics of Ontario services Ottawa Valley and Southern Ontario, Canada