A Brief History of the Windshield

Over the years, windshields have been updated and completely transformed to enhance the safety of motor vehicles. Windshields now serve a structural purpose for vehicles as a whole, rather than just a simple shield from wind and a bit of debris. It might surprise you that in the 19th century drivers actually wore goggles as protection. This may seem like an absurd fashion statement today, but it was vitally important back then. Here is a more in depth history of our beloved windshield.

Gas powered automobiles were first produced in the 1890s. Roughly 14 years later, the first windshield was invented. This was nearly a decade with no protection whatsoever. These windshields were made of two-pieced plate glass. When one layer became too dirty, the driver could peal it down. The danger of this glass was quickly realized.

Windshield wipers made their first appearance in 1916. They were not automatic as they are today. Instead the driver used a crank to move the wipers from side to side. These wipers were called “Folberths”. Electric wipers did not surface until the 1920s. Alternating powered windshield wipers were developed in the 1960s.

In 1919, Henry Ford began employing the windshield technology of the French scientist Eduoard Benedictus. A cellulose layer separated two layers of plate glass. This layer held the plate glass together on impact. Simply put, it prevented the windshield from shattering into pieces in the case of an accident or an object hitting the windshield. The only drawback to this windshield was that the cellulose became discolored over time.

The year 1934 marked the birth of the curved windshield, which decreased drag and improved aerodynamics. About 15 years later, tempered glass was used on side and rear windows. These windows could withstand terrific blows. If the glass were to break, it would disintegrate into soft beads. This type of glass was not used on the windshields however.

Today, windshield installation is equally as important as the windshield technology itself. Windshields must be installed and bonded properly to help prevent injuries or ejection from the vehicle in the event of an accident.

Fixing chips and cracks in windshields is now much easier because of current technology. Many chips are simply fixed with an adhesive resin rather than replacing the windshield entirely. Ultraviolet lights help seal the resin, and restore much of the strength and integrity of the windshield.  Your windshield is your armor. It protects you from wind, debris, and sunlight, and can be very helpful in the event of an accident.

The windshield has come a long way since the 19th century, and the future will likely bring many more advances to the mass market, such as informational displays and touch screen integration.  Perhaps new technology will allow more malleable windshields and windows, capable of being struck or warping in an accident without breaking or cracking. The possibilities of future auto glass have us very excited.

But for the here and now, remember to tend to chips and cracks immediately because they greatly diminish the strength of your windshield. Also be sure you take your vehicle to a trusted professional for help, because the modern windshield is only as good as the quality of installation service.

If your vehicle’s windshield or windows are in need of repair or replacement, call DeDona Auto Glass today at (336) 851-1300, or request a free quote online. Our technicians are standing by to assist you for all your auto glass needs.

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5212 W Market St.


DeDona Tint & Sound

5212 W. Market St. | Greensboro, NC 27409

(336) 851-1300

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