A Short History of Auto Glass

In the early days of the automobile, the windshield was considered a luxury item by most car manufacturers and drivers. A windshield was commonly considered an add-on feature that would increase the cost of the automobile. And it was typically little more than a sheet of glass that was divided horizontally so that the driver could fold the glass down when it got too dirty.

The windshield was later more seriously incorporated  into the automobile in the early 20th Century, in the years following the invention of shatter resistant glass by French chemist, Edouard Benedictus. In a fortunate accident in 1904, Benedictus dropped a glass flask filled with dried collodium film. While the flask cracked, it did not completely shatter. His invention would provide the foundation for later developments in auto glass technology, and would later be used for windshield glass by the 1920’s.

By 1915, Oldsmobile was including windshields as a standard feature in all of their vehicles. Additionally, Henry Ford began to recognize the importance of stronger and safer windshield glass. Ford would make it mandatory to put laminated glass in all the vehicles coming off his lines by 1919. In the 1930’s, tempered glass began to replace the glass Benedictus pioneered. Made in a process of repeated heating and cooling, tempered glass was surprisingly strong yet thin. Its ability to break down in accidents made it safer for drivers, reducing the chance of broken glass flying into the face of the driver.

In the 1960’s, it became clear that automobiles needed guidelines and safety standards, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was formed in 1970. The NHTSA now sets the standards of safety for auto glass and windshields, dictating the strength and clarity required for automobiles on the road.


Windshield Centers is a leading auto glass repair shop located in the greater Buffalo & Rochester, NY areas. Contact us online or at (800) 900-1505 to schedule windshield repair or replacement services today.

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