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Garage doors and door openers have evolved considerably over the decades, and one thing that has changed right along with them is the garage door remote — first, a brief history of garage doors and openers. Before the Ford Model-T, most people didn’t own a car, so there was little use for a traditional garage. Yes, people had storage sheds, some had stables, barns and outbuildings, and most of these structures were accessed through solid, hinged doors.

The first practical, sectional overhead door was released to the public in 1921 and as a fascination with the “horseless carriage” grew, so did the overhead garage door industry. The first electric garage door opener became commercially available in 1926 and featured a remote, of sorts – two hardwired switches – one on the exterior of the garage and a second inside the structure. Pushing a button on the remote activated an electric motor which touched off a bicycle chain to open and close the door. Clunky, dangerous and difficult to secure.

Along came World War II and technology took a giant leap forward. A means was needed to detonate bombs remotely, and so a special radio transmitter was designed and built for the purpose.  It didn’t take long before a couple of enterprising American inventors borrowed the technology and re-purposed it to create the first wireless garage door remote control. The transmitter would broadcast a specific frequency, and the receiver would, essentially, listen for the right radio signal and then open or close the door depending upon its position.

Operating on low power and with a limited range, the device worked fine unless, of course, your neighbour had the same remote. All remotes operated on the same frequency therefore when you opened your garage door; you are likely to open your neighbour’s and vice versa.

To resolve this problem, door manufacturers began using fixed pulse codes set on both the remote and overhead garage door opener. In this way, if two remotes were tuned to the same frequency, they would only respond and open the door if they received the right code. Fixed code systems were popular in the nineteen seventies and typically featured a series of 8 to 12 DIP (Dual Inline Package) switches that boasted over 4000 possible code combinations.

As technology advanced, so did the ability of criminals to break these fixed codes and gain access to a garage.  To combat this issue, a new form of garage door remote was devised using rolling code technology. Simply put, this new remote transmitted a unique identifier, a sequence of numbers and an encrypted message. And unlike earlier systems, the number sequence expired so even if an intruder “captured” the code, re-transmitting it at a later time wouldn’t open the door. This approach provided much greater garage and home security.

In addition to changes in remote technology, much greater emphasis was placed on garage door safety. With the addition of photo-eyes and features like non-contact reversal, injuries caused by garage doors – especially to children – dropped considerably.

Today, many garage door openers are controlled by smartphones using Bluetooth technology or through the Internet using home automation systems. Many new vehicles have garage door remotes already built into the windshield visor. This convenient device has come a long way over the past century, and further advances in technology will likely mean even more changes. It’s entirely possible that the physical remote control may disappear entirely.


To learn more about door technology, call us now at (403) 783-2454. We’ll provide you with all the advice and information you need to make the right commercial garage door decision. We can also provide you with a free, no-obligation quote on that new door and opener. Follow the links on our web-page to gain more information. Doors on Demand – serving all of Alberta!