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​Almanac: The first automatic door

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: June 19th, 1931, 85 years ago today ... the day the door opened to a whole new world of technology.

For that was the day the Stanley Works company installed the world's first automatic doors at Wilcox's Pier Restaurant in West Haven, Connecticut.

Placed between the kitchen and the dining room, the doors sprang open the moment a photoelectric eye detected a person's approach.

"Through the invention," wrote the Hartford Courant, "there is no longer need for waitresses to kick open doors or use their hands for anything other than carrying in the trays."

On June 19th, 1931, Wilcox's Pier Restaurant in West Haven, Connecticut opened up a whole new world of technology, with the first automatic doors. Waitressing was never the same again. Stanley Works

In a letter to Stanley Works, the restaurant's president wrote, "They are one of the most satisfactory pieces of equipment which we have ever installed ... and have certainly speeded up the service of our waitresses."

You might say the automatic doors broke the field of door-opening wide open. Today there are devices to open virtually any imaginable kind of door, from the entrance to the local store, to garage doors ... even doors to chicken coops.

Our popular culture has taken note of all these automatic doors, albeit with an occasional bit of skepticism: Automatic doors greeted visitors to "Jurassic Park," while a seemingly malevolent door pinned Steve Carell as agent Maxwell Smart in the film, "Get Smart."


While something similar happened to Bart in a "Simpsons" episode many years later.

All in all, we probably take the convenience of automatic doors for granted ...

Unless, that is, you're THIS little boy encountering one for the very first time:

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