Who invented double-glazed windows?

As with many apparently simple inventions, there is some dispute over who first came up with the idea

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Who invented double-glazed windows?
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The basic concept for double-glazed windows is that by trapping a layer of air – a natural insulator – between two sheets of glass, the amount of heat leaving the building is dramatically cut.

There is good evidence that some houses in Scotland had double-glazed windows as early as the 1870s. However, this took the form of a second sheet of glass puttied to existing windows. Similar claims have been made for Switzerland and Germany.

The modern double-glazed window – with two layers of glass bonded together in one single frame – was invented in America in 1930 by C D Haven. Haven's idea needed glass of uniform thickness and absolute flatness to work properly, and that was expensive to produce in the 1930s.

It was not until 1941 that he found a manufacturer willing to take the idea on. No sooner had the Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company of Toledo, Ohio, patented the idea and registered the trade name of ‘Thermopane’ than the USA joined World War II. This caused a delay, which meant that modern double-glazing finally entered the market in 1952.

Answered by one of our Q&A experts, Rupert Matthews. For more fascinating questions by Rupert, and the rest of our panel, pick up a copy of History Revealed! Available in print and for digital devices.

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