Dishwasher History – a Look at the Legend

The dishwasher is something which you see in every modern home. It has a lot of bells and whistles on it which make our lives so much easier, but where did it all begin? You might not have known this, but the history of the dishwasher goes back 150 years and has evolved significantly since then.

We at Repair Aid are going to be taking a look at how your machine has grown and developed since it’s conception, so you can see how it all began.

A Humble Origin

The dishwasher began life back in 1850. Its original creator was a man called Joel Houghton. His creation was designed to be a small, crank-operated machine that washed dishes. When the crank turned, water flowed through the wooden panels of the device and cleaned the plates.

1860 hand-powered dishwasher

Unfortunately, the idea didn’t stick. It remained just a novelty until a woman called Josephine Cochrane came along. She made alterations and changes to the design until it worked well enough to make a debut at the World’s Fair in 1887. Cochrane was a wealthy woman and sold the idea of the dishwasher based on the premise it stopped dishes from becoming chipped during washing, despite doing no such chore herself.

Hers was the third incarnation of the machine, with a man called L.A Alexander making improvements to the device via the addition of a gear mechanism. However, this wasn’t effective, much like the original model that Joel made. It was not until Cochrane got her hands on it that the dishwasher began to move towards its current popularity.

Fun fact – if you can believe it, the rise of the dishwasher came from the mistakes of other people! When servants began to chip priceless china which was used to throw lavish dinner parties out of fatigue, Cochrane decided to take matters into her own hands and invent the machine which diminished this room for error.

Modern Technologies

So, we know that the history of the dishwasher goes back around 160 years. However, they still weren’t accessible technologies for many people. The problem was that due to a lack of indoor plumbing in a lot of homes, you’d find that only the wealthy and affluent could have the dishwasher installed in their home. And further stopping people from having public convenience was the fact that the machines still didn’t look like the modern counterparts we know and love.

This design changed in 1924 however, when an English inventor managed to update the way that they looked and turn them into the system which would be known for the next 80 years or so, introducing the concept of a rack and the rotating sprayers that cleaned more effectively.

The Aftermath of War

1950 dishwasher

WWII was a challenging time for any country involved, and even in its aftermath recovery from such a brutal period of fighting was difficult. For many, indoor plumbing remained a novelty – progress was impeded just by people trying to get back to where they were before disaster struck. The wealthy class continued to use them and had no restrictions on having convenience in their homes. In the 1950s, this changed. No longer was the dishwasher just something that could only be afforded to the rich – more and more people were using them in their homes.

When the 1970s came and went, it was official. The dishwasher was now a technology which could be used by many different people without having to be excessively rich or affluent. They were no longer just a novelty which people got on with because it was an added convenience, they were instead a vital piece of technology in a world that was getting faster and faster every day.

All Caught Up

Fast forward to the present day, and we’ve all caught up. Thanks to advances in modern plumbing and other technological wonders, the dishwasher is now a modern comfort that we can all enjoy. Because people have worked hard to perfect the dishwasher and make sure that it performs in a way that is beneficial for everyone, there’s a lot of features on it which make it a good choice.

Modern integrated dishwasher

The top range of dishwashers all come packed with features and bonuses which make them a desirable machine. For example, you’ll find things like pre-soak cycles, removable racks, and other ideas and items which help to make the dishwasher what it is today.

It’s incredible to think about the journey that something as simple as your dishwasher has been on. It’s not merely been an invention which has just come into popularity over 50 years – there’s been over a century of work that’s gone into this machine and making it just right for people to use. There’s no wonder that it’s become such a staple of the modern home when you consider that all of the different alterations and designs made over the years contributed to this. Even back when there was just the basic design, people continued to expand on it and make it worthwhile.

What if Cochrane hadn’t been inspired to turn the dishwasher what it was? If her husband hadn’t passed away and left her with massive debts and no money, she might not have been inspired to try and push her invention forward.

Of course, we can’t forget Joel and his very first contribution back in 1850. Whether he knew it or not, he set in motion a series of events which would lead to the dishwasher becoming a common sight in many homes. It’s incredible to think about, and it helps to reinforce just how random these things can sometimes be.

All in all, we at Repair Aid find the creation of the dishwasher to be pretty impressive. What do you think? It’s pretty amazing to see how far something so familiar has progressed and developed. When you consider that less than 100 years ago, they were only for the very wealthiest of people, you can see real growth.

We’ve seen and repaired a lot of models in our time, but it’s not often the case that we get the chance to look into the past and see how things used to be. It’s important to look into history and to find out exactly how things used to be and what the world was like because that’s how we avoid making the same mistakes, and also how innovations come about, by approaching a topic from an entirely different angle.

Perhaps in 20 years, someone will look at our current machines and make a significant advancement based on what they see.

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Author: Repair Aid®

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