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The History of Replacement Windows
The first mass-produced windows manufactured for residential as well as commercial use were made by the Andersen Lumber Company in 1915. Originally designed for the U.S. Military in World War I for barracks and other armed forces buildings, they were vastly successful and named “Victory” windows for their part in the war effort. By the time of the next World War, Andersen had once again revolutionized window frames with their horizontal gliding window.
Most windows until this time had implemented a series of pulleys, weights and chains within their frames to open and close. However, materials for construction were earmarked for military purposes when the United States entered World War II and supplies were scarce for window manufacture. This deficiency of building materials led Andersen to invent another type of window. Pressure-seal double hung windows came into existence and soon became the norm for residential as well as commercial window construction. These windows were also the first to implement weather stripping on the outer window.
The first specialty glass to protect a home’s delicate temperature balance was implemented in 1952 in the Flexivent window, a model that could open inward, outward or upward. Welded Insulating Glass was designed to protect against condensation and frost and reduce the need for higher levels of heating.
The first windows to have their exterior frames coated in vinyl to protect from the element were those with the Perma-Shield Cladding System. The purpose of the vinyl, like today, was to extend the life of the window and block cold air from penetrating the window assembly. The process is essentially the same today as it was when these windows were introduced, in 1966.
In 1980, the first fully-assembled windows became available. The true ancestor of today’s replacement windows, these frames and glass could be bought in their entirety and installed in one process. In 1983, the first Low-E glass panes were introduced and made commercially available. While revolutionary at the time, Low-E glass has since been modified and perfected extensively.