The most important step was the invention of the overhead garage door.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
When garages for homes first came into existence in the early 1900s, their doors were pretty much like those on a barn.
That makes perfect sense, because the first garages were mostly converted carriage houses. Before the auto arrived, these separate small buildings to the side and back of many homes housed a horse and buggy, and sometimes one or two other animals. The two doors would open outward on hinges.
As the garage evolved, one change involved a track system in which a single, large door could move across the face of the garage, instead of doors opening outward. Trouble was, the garage had to be fairly large in front to accommodate the track and door sliding across its face.
Then came the folding door, which had hinged sections that would fold back to one side of the garage.
The biggest invention, though, was the overhead door that could be lifted. Made of one piece, the door was often heavy because it was made of solid wood. This led to the invention of the electric garage-door opener in 1926.
Next came new materials, such as steel, and garage doors that folded overhead.
Garage doors became much more important in the late 1950s and '60s as the garage was moved from the back or side of a house to the front because land in many places became so valuable.
When garages came out of the closet, so to speak, and moved to the front of the house, architects and home designers paid more attention to them, often including them prominently in their new-home renderings. As styles of new homes began to have broader range, their garages reflected those styles, such as Old English, French, Colonial and Craftsman.
With variety of style came technical innovations. Better steel tracks, better wheels and screw drives were used.