The Romans were the first known to employ glass for windows, a technique that was most likely invented in Roman Egypt. Glass became prevalent in ordinary home windows in England only in the early 17th century, but windows constructed of flattened animal horn were used as early as the 14th century.
In the Middle Ages, glaziers made windows by hand with whatever materials were available, usually wood or bone. By the late medieval era, glassmakers began to produce glass panes that could be cut and fitted into frames. These glass windows were popular in Europe's upper classes but rarely found in rural homes because they were expensive to install. Not until the 16th century did glass manufacturers begin to mass-produce window panes. By the 18th century, inexpensive cast iron replacements had become available and largely supplanted the ancient method of window making.
In the United States, homes were initially built with shuttered windows, which could be opened to allow air flow or closed to prevent insects from entering. The first known patent for a shutter mechanism was filed in America by Asa Whitman in 1816. Although shutters are still used today on some buildings, most modern windows are sealed using vinyl or metal frames with glass inserted inside them.
People have been making windows since prehistoric times, but it wasn't until about 1000 AD that people started to make glass in large quantities.
While paper windows were common in ancient China, Korea, and Japan, the Romans were the first to utilize glass for windows around 100 AD. Prior to the introduction of glass in the early 17th century, animal horn was utilized in England. The frames were built of wood, and the windows were narrow to accommodate the glass. They were called "horned windows."
The first true glass window came about 130 years later, when Italian artist Giovan Battista Fontana invented a method of making clear glass that could be cut into shapes for windows. This led to the emergence of the window frame-maker as an independent business unit. Around this time, too, glass manufacturers began to produce windows as an optional extra to their regular sales of glass.
In England, it was not until the 1620s that the first factory-made windows made it onto the market. Henry VIII is said to have had over 200 rooms with glass windows in his palaces. He was the one who originally started using glass instead of wooden shutters on his doors.
In the United States, the first mass-manufactured windows were introduced by Benjamin Franklin in 1770. They were made from transparent sheets of silvered copper bent into shape and mounted in wood frames.
Franklin also invented the first mass-produced window curtain, which was made out of silk. Before then, people used linen or cotton curtains, which needed washing sometimes as often as every week.
Flattened animal horn was employed as an early substitute for glass, dating back to the 14th century. Poorer people had to cover their windows with oiled linen or parchment to keep drafts out while allowing some light in. That's why the windows in old houses were so small. The Romans were the first to utilize glass in their windows. They obtained their glass from Egypt and Syria.
During the 11th century, Moorish builders in Málaga, Spain created the first stained glass windows. By the 13th century, more sophisticated techniques had been developed, especially in England where stained glass became popular. Stained glass is glass painted or decorated with images drawn from nature or designed by artists. The colors used are either incorporated into the glass itself or applied after it has been formed but before it is cut up into individual pieces.
In the 15th century, Leonardo da Vinci invented a new type of window called a "window of lights." These windows contained several small panes of glass separated by strips of wood or metal. When sunlight struck the separate panels, it would scatter throughout the room creating a glowing effect that was beautiful yet functional too. This type of window remained popular into the 19th century.
These were used instead of dishes in dining rooms because they looked nicer and allowed for more variety in food styling.