History of Automatic Doors

Heron Invents First Automatic Door
Alexandria, Egypt - About 2000 years ago  Heron of Alexandria a.k.a. Hero was a great mathematician and mechanics inventor that was born around 10 AD.  Some historians say earlier and some say later.  Although it seems no one can agree exactly when Heron was born, the scientific community recognizes the important contributions this man has made to civilization or could have made if discovered sooner.

Heron authored two books know as the PneumaticaHis work was lost for some centuries, but when found it described his theories and his experiments and constructive works in pneumatics, steam and water pressure.  One can only wonder if human civilization would have mechanized sooner if his works were not lost.

Heron describes in detail and through drawings many mechanical devices operated by air, water or steam pressure.  Most of these devices he actually constructed.  These include a steam turbine engine he called an aeolipile (Greek for wind ball), a toy jet propelled vehicle, automated dancing puppets, a steam powered fire engine, a water clock, heavy lifting machines, a coin operated vending machine, a pipe organ and a machine to automatically change scenery in the cities theatre.  One of Heron's designs for a steam engine was discovered in 1668.  Heron's designs may have served as inspiration to Thomas Savery who invented a steam engine in 1698 to pump water from mine shafts.  Later Thomas Watt invented the modern piston driven steam engine in 1765.

But back to automatic doors........ Heron describes not one, but two different automatic door applications.  The first application used heat from a fire lit by the city's temple priest.  After, a few hours  atmospheric pressure built up in a brass vessel causing it to pump water into adjacent holding containers.  These holding containers acted as weights, that through a series of ropes and pulleys would open the temple's doors, at just about the time people were to arrive for prayer.  Heron used a similar application to open the gates to the city.

 

   

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Page last updated Monday, August 20, 2012
by Charles F. Vetter