Who Invented Clear Glass?

The invention of a clear transparent glass that can easily be looked through is one of the most important inventions in history and was the product of over a millennium of innovation, discovery and challenges leading to tough transparent windows and effective window glass repair.

The invention of glass itself is somewhat up for debate, as whilst natural glass has been used since the stone age, the first production of glass was made in Ancient Egypt, typically in the form of glazed beads and vessels.

Early glass was somewhat opaque, and this would continue until the development of glass blowing techniques and the introduction of manganese dioxide into the production process, which allowed for Alexandrian glass blowers to make clear glass.

This glass was even used to create the first windows, although due to the somewhat crude process of glass blowing and flattening glass into a rounded sheet, they were almost useless to try and see out of.

Glass was used everywhere in the Roman Empire, for piping, as part of mosaics, to make water vessels and even as part of the floor.

Clear glass was most highly prized, as it allowed wine drinkers to showcase the quality of their wine to guests.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, a lot of their techniques (such as using Natron), had been lost almost everywhere aside from Venice. Venice was part of the Byzantine Empire that had conquered the eastern part of the Roman Empire, and so many of their technologies continued, including glassmaking.

Venetian glass, particularly that made on the islands of Murano, developed a reputation for high-quality thanks to using soda ash, almost pure silica quartz pebbles thanks to the fine sand in the area and increasingly clear glass that peaked with Angelo Barovier’s Cristallo.

With the help of manganese dioxide, Cristallo soda glass could be made completely transparent and extremely thin, which not only allowed for beautiful clear glass but the creation of lenses, eyeglasses and clear windows.