Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hayley: The History of the Washing Machine

  • People in ancient times cleaned their clothes by pounding them on rocks or rubbing them with abrasive sand. They then would wash the dirt away in small streams of water.
  • 1767- Jacob Christian Schaffer's washing machine design was published.
  • 1797- Nathaniel Briggs invented the scrub board, a labor intensive device on which the clothes were vigorously rubbed by hand.
  • Following this, Nathaniel Briggs invented and patented the first ever washing machine in the United States. This was known as the Box Mangler. It consisted of a heavy frame containing a large box filled with rocks, resting on a series of long wooden rollers. Washing was laid flat on a sheet and wound round one of the rollers. Two people pulled on levers to move the heavy box back and forth over the rollers. It was large and expensive and required heavy labor to operate.
  • 1843- John E. Turnbull invented a washing machine with a wringer mechanism.
  • 1851- American, James King patented the first machine to use a drum. It resembled a modern machine but was till hand powered.
  • 1874- William Blackstone built a washing machine as a birthday present for his wife. It was designed for convenient use in the home. This machine consisted of a wooden tub in which there was a flat piece of wood containing six small wooden pegs. The inner mechanism looked like a small milking stool. This was moved back and forth by a handle and gears. Dirty clothes were snagged on the pegs and swished about in hot, soapy water. The company he founded still produces and sells washing machines today, out of NY headquarters.
  • 1900s- Wooden wash tubs were replaced by metal tubs. With the advent of small electric motors, the washing machine entered the electric age.
  • 1906- Fisher produced the first electric machine. It worked reasonably well, but with the motor bolted to the side of the machine, they were not very safe. Water often spilled over the sides and into the motor or switch. It was not until after a few people got fried that they enclosed the drum into a case.
  • 1908- Hurley Machine Corporation introduces the Mighty Thor. Invented by Alva J Fisher. It was a drum type machine with a galvanized tub and electric motor. The patent for this machine was issued on the 9th of August 1910.
  • 1911- Whirlpool Corporation, then Upton Machine Corporation, starts producing electric motor driven wringer washers.
  • 1922- Maytag introduces the agitator system for moving water around the drum, rather than dragging the fabric around in the water.
  • 1930s- John W Chamberlain of Bendix Aviation Corporation invents a machine that can wash, rinse and extract water from clothes in a single operation.
  • 1947- The first top-loading automatic washer is introduced by Whirlpool Corporation.
  • 1960s- The costs of automatic machines were reduced when companies started producing twin tub machines and this style of washer sold millions. In the US a company named Seeburg, famous for making jukeboxes, started production of an auto machine that flopped in sales. The timer mechanism they designed, though, was very successful and many companies began using the Seeburg timers in their machines. This forced prices down even more.
  • 1978- The first micro-chip controlled machine were produced.
  • 2000 and beyond- Scientists are still working on new models of washing machines to make them more handy for everyone. They try to make better ways to clean clothes and make machines last longer. Now, being more environmentally conscious, there is a focus on using less water and detergents to wash clothes.
  • For example, British inventors have designed the Xerox machine. This washing machine uses thousands of special plastic chips in each wash. When a single cup of water is heated, these chips absorb the dirt from the clothing, including hard stains. The chips are removed when the wash ends and can be reused up to 100 times. Though it's still in prototyping, the inventors are intending to commercialize their machine. It could save billions of litres of water and save on people's electrical consumption.

washing machines
Washing machine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Modern Marvels
Washing Mashine History- Gizmo Highway Technology Guide
Milestones in the History of Washing Machines and Dryers
History of Washing Machines | Washing Machine Reviews
Xeros Washing Machine Cleans Clothes with a Cup of Water - GoodCleanTech

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