May is National Inventors Month founded in 1998 by United Inventors Association of the USA (UIA-USA), the Academy of Applied Science, and Inventors’ Digest Magazine. Do you know who invented your favorite household appliance? Read on to find out.
The Washing Machine
Alva J. Fisher is credited with creating the first commercially-sold electric powered washing machine in 1908. The machine was called “The Thor” and was produced by the Hurley Machine Company of Chicago, Illinois. It featured a galvanized tub, blades which lifted the clothes as the cylinder rotated and the ability for the drum to change rotation direction in order to prevent the laundry from becoming bunched up into a ball. An electric motor turned the drum.
Although refrigeration technology was already being used for industry, especially in food and drink-related industries, Fred W. Wolf of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is credited with inventing the first electrical refrigerator for home use in 1913. The appliance was called the “Domelre,” standing for Domestic Electric Refrigerator and sold for $900.
Wolf used an old fashioned ice box with a mounted refrigeration unit on top which required external plumbing connections. His invention also used a closed system of circulating refrigerant driven by a compressor to cool the hot humid, air.
In 1918, General Motors’ President William Durant bought the Guardian Refrigerator Company and renamed it Frigidaire. It purchased the patent for the Domelre and through its own engineering and manufacturing, introduced improvements to the refrigerator and began mass producing it.
British inventor, James Sharp patented a gas oven in 1826 and began to commercially produce gas ovens after installing one in his own house.
Gas cookers became more popular after the invention of the oven thermostat in 1923 which allowed the temperature in the oven to be controlled precisely.
William Hadaway was issued the first patent for an electric oven on June 30, 1896.
The Air Conditioner
Willis Haviland Carrier of Buffalo, N.Y. is credited with creating the first modern air conditioning system and such systems were used in factories, department stores, theaters and in the homes of wealthy people. It wasn’t until 1931 when the first individual in-window air conditioning unit was created by H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman. The units were not wide-spread due to their exorbitant costs between $10,000