Household Appliances

  • Engine-powered vacuum cleaner

    Engine-powered vacuum cleaner
    British civil engineer H. Cecil Booth patents a vacuum cleaner powered by an engine and mounted on a horse-drawn cart. Teams of operators would reel the hoses into buildings to be cleaned
  • Lightweight electric iron introduced

    Lightweight electric iron introduced
    Earl Richardson of Ontario, California, introduces the lightweight electric iron. After complaints from customers that it overheated in the center, Richardson makes an iron with more heat in the point, useful for pressing around buttonholes and ruffles. Soon his customers are clamoring for the "iron with the hot point"
  • Electric filaments improved

    Electric filaments improved
    Engineer Albert Marsh patents the nickel and chromium alloy nichrome, used to make electric filaments that can heat up quickly without burning out. The advent of nichrome paves the way, 4 years later, for the first electric toaster
  • First practical domestic vacuum cleaner

    First practical domestic vacuum cleaner
    James Spangler, a janitor at an Ohio department store who suffers from asthma, invents his "electric suction-sweeper," the first practical domestic vacuum cleaner. It employs an electric fan to generate suction, rotating brushes to loosen dirt, a pillowcase for a filter, and a broomstick for a handle. Unsuccessful with his heavy, clumsy invention, Spangler sells the rights the following year to a relative
  • First commercially successful electric toaster

    First commercially successful electric toaster
    Frank Shailor of General Electric files a patent application for the D-12, the first commercially successful electric toaster. The D-12 has a single heating element and no exterior casing. It has no working parts, no controls, and no sensors; a slice of bread must be turned by hand to toast on both sides
  • First electric dishwasher on the market

    First electric dishwasher on the market
    The Walker brothers of Philadelphia produce the first electric dishwasher to go on the market, with full-scale commercialization by Hotpoint and others in 1930
  • First refrigerator for home use

    First refrigerator for home use
    Fred W. Wolf of Fort Wayne, Indiana, invents the first refrigerator for home use, a small unit mounted on top of an old-fashioned icebox and requiring external plumbing connections. Only in 1925 would a hermetically sealed standalone home refrigerator of the modern type, based on pre-1900 work by Marcel Audiffren of France and by self-trained machinist Christian Steenstrup of Schenectady
  • Calrod developed

    Calrod developed
    Charles C. Abbot of General Electric develops an electrically insulating, heat conducting ceramic "Calrod" that is still used in many electrical household appliances as well as in industry
  • First automatic pop-up toaster

    First automatic pop-up toaster
    Charles Strite’s first automatic pop-up toaster uses a clockwork mechanism to time the toasting process, shut off the heating element when the bread is done, and release the slice with a pop-up spring
  • First Garbage Disposal

    First Garbage Disposal
    John W. Hammes, a Racine, Wisconsin, architect, develops the first garbage disposal in his basement because he wants to make kitchen cleanup work easier for his wife. Nicknamed the "electric pig" when first introduced by the Emerson Electric Company, the appliance operates on the principle of centrifugal force to pulverize food waste against a stationary grind ring so it would easily flush down the drain
  • Washing Machine

    Washing Machine
    John W. Chamberlain of Bendix Corporation invents a device that enables a washing machine to wash, rinse, and extract water from clothes in a single operation
  • First Dryer

    First Dryer
    J. Ross Moore builds an oil-heated drum in a shed next to his house, thereby creating the first clothes dryer. Moore’s first patented dryers run on either gas or electricity, but he is forced to sell the design to the Hamilton Manufacturing Company the following year because of financial difficulties
  • First Microwave

    First Microwave
    Raytheon Corporation engineer Percy L. Spencer’s realization that the vacuum tube, or magnetron, he is testing can melt candy, pop corn, and cook an egg leads to the first microwave oven. Raytheon’s first model, in 1947, stands 5.5 feet tall, weighs more than 750 pounds, and sells for $5,000
  • First top-loading automatic washer

    First top-loading automatic washer
    The Nineteen Hundred Corporation introduces the first top-loading automatic washer, which Sears markets under the Kenmore label. Billed as a "suds saver," the round appliance sells for $239.95
  • First automatic coffeepot

    First automatic coffeepot
    Russell Hobbs invents the CP1, the first automatic coffeepot as well as the first of what would become a successful line of appliances
  • Spray mist added to iron

    Spray mist added to iron
    Sunbeam ushers in a new era in iron technology by adding "spray mist" to the steam and dry functions of its S-5A model
  • Self-cleaning oven

    Self-cleaning oven
    General Electric introduces the self-cleaning electric oven and in 1967 the first electronic oven control
  • First electric sewing machine

    First electric sewing machine
    Singer introduces the Athena 2000, the world’s first electronic sewing machine. A wide variety of stitches, from basic straight to complicated decorative, are available at the touch of a button. The "brain" of the system is a chip that measures less than one-quarter of an inch and contains more than 8,000 transistors
  • First prototype of a robotic vacuum cleaner

    First prototype of a robotic vacuum cleaner
    Swedish appliance company Electrolux presents the first prototype of a robotic vacuum cleaner. The device, billed as "the world’s first true domestic robot," sends and receives high-frequency ultrasound to negotiate its way around a room, much as bats do. In the production model, launched in Sweden a few years later, eight microphones receive and measure the returning signals to give the vacuum an accurate picture of the room