Automatic sliding doors are an increasingly popular choice for business premises. Whatever the function of your business, a sliding door always looks professional, as well as being an easy and convenient method of accessing your premises. Sliding doors can handle a large flow of pedestrians, and sliding doors are also ideal for complying with disability access guidelines. Even parents with pushchairs and prams find sliding doors the easiest to contend with when entering a building. In short, sliding doors are widely accepted as being the best choice of door for any modern business.
The first sliding doors were invented by Dee Horton and Lew Hewitt in America, in 1954. Horton Automatics, founded by Horton and Hewitt themselves, developed and sold the first sliding doors in 1960. The idea for sliding doors came to Horton and Hewitt when they noticed that normal swing doors had difficulty operating in windy conditions. So, the pair went to work inventing sliding doors that could cope with high winds in a way that traditional swing doors could not. The very first sliding doors were installed in the city of Corpus Christi, at the Old Driscoll Hotel, for its Torch restaurant. However, the first sliding doors in operation, before the sliding doors of the Old Driscoll Hotel, were donated to the City of Corpus Christi for its Shoreline Drive utilities department. Ever since, sliding doors have rocketed in popularity worldwide.
In spite of their massive commercial success, especially after the advent of shopping malls, sliding doors have never really taken off for domestic home use. Though the potential to create slick, ultramodern style through the use of sliding doors in sophistocated homes could make sliding doors a distinct choice for interior designers, very few homes seem to use sliding doors. Perhaps one reason for this is the potential for breakdowns, which are a rare possibility with sliding doors. Regular, swing doors which are traditionally wooden, can be easily chipped and damaged in everyday use. However, the cost of replacing a swing door, as opposed to that of replacing sliding doors, is considerably lower. Nonetheless, I for one would like to see sliding doors used more regularly in luxury homes, as in my mind sliding doors still have that futuristic, Star Trek quality about them.
Star Trek may have been the first place that many people encountered sliding doors, aside from their use on elevators in the 1960s. The sliding doors in Star Trek, however, were operated manually off-screen. Though there was the technology, at the time of the first Star Trek episodes, to use sliding doors on-screen, manually operated sliding doors were chosen. This was potentially a cost-saving measure, but also for maximum effect. In Star Trek, the artificial intelligence that controlled the sliding doors appeared to be able to read the characters’ minds, and open and close according to the characters’ intentions. There are many inconsistencies with how the Star Trek sliding doors worked in those early episodes, and those inconsistencies were down to the requirements of the sliding doors in specific scenes. There are also plenty of Trekkie bloopers showing what happens when the sliding doors didn’t open fast enough. That is one thing about sliding doors – you do still need to pause briefly while the sliding doors open!
Sliding doors are possibly one of the most noteable inventions of the twentieth century, providing an ease of access and a professional look wherever they are used. When pushing your trolley out of the supermarket into the car park, where would you be without the sliding doors that allow you to pass seamlessly from indoors to out, without having to grapple with troublesome door handles. The only real downside that I can think of when it comes to sliding doors is that their use renders chivalry surplus to requirement. With sliding doors, no one has the opportunity to hold the door open for anyone else, making it much harder to spot a chivalrous character about town!