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HISTORY OF HOUSEHOLD ITEMS

Did you ever wonder how many inventions were the result of an accident, how many great ideas were not even recognized by their inventor? As a people we have always had a love affair with technology. Just look at our homes, which are veritable showplaces of 20th-century advancements. An unpaid workforce composed almost entirely of women, faced an unimaginable lifetime of drudgery and backbreaking work. A long list of labor-saving appliances and household items changed all that and significantly altering the way we live.

The technologies that created the 20th century's laborsaving household devices owe a huge debt to electrification, which brought light and power into the home. Then two major engineering innovations—resistance heating and small, efficient motors—led to electric stoves and irons, vacuum cleaners, washers, dryers, and dishwashers. In the second half of the century advances in electronics yielded appliances that could be set on timers and even programmed, further reducing the domestic workload by allowing washing and cooking to go on without the presence of the human launderer or cook.

 
INVENTION                  INVENTOR                          YEAR
blender
Bose
® Speakers
can opener
carpet sweeper
Christmas lights
flashlight

Franklin Stove
itty bitty Booklight
iPod
Lava
® Lamp
light bulb
Makin' Bacon
microwave oven
mixer

nutcracker
personal computer
refrigerator
Self-pasting Scrapbook
sewing machine
smoke alarm / smoke detector
telephone

television
TV remote control
toilet paper
toaster
Tupperware®
vacuum cleaner
Stephen Poplawski
Amar Bose
Ezra Warner
Melville Bissell
Edward Johnson
Conrad Hubert

Ben Franklin
Noel Zeller
Tony Fadell
Edward Craven Walker
Thomas Alva Edison
Abigail M. Fleck
Percy Spencer
Herbert Johnson

Henry Quackenbush
Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak
Carl Linde
Samuel Clemens
Elias Howe
BRK Electronics (First Alert®)
Alexander Graham Bell

Philo T. Farnsworth
Robert Adler
Seth Wheeler
Charles Strite
Earl Tupper
Daniel Hess
1922
1968
1858
1876
1882
1902

1742
1982
2001
1963
1879
1993
1945
1908

1878
1976
1876
1873
1846
1969
1876

1927
1956
1877
1919
1945
1860

TO LEARN MORE

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
100 Inventions That Shaped World History
by Bill Yenne, Morton, Dr. Grosser (Editor) / Paperback - 112 pages (1983)
/ Bluewood Books 
This book contains inventions from all around the world from microchips to fire. This is a really good book if you are going to do research on inventions.
Cocktail Shakers, Lava Lamps, and Tupperware: A Celebration of Lifestyle Design
by Wayne Hemingway, Keith Stephenson / Paperback: 144 pages / Rockport Publishers (2004)
The book combines hip graphic treatments with a level of ironic kitschness that reflects the products featured. Internationally acclaimed pop-cultural design aficionado Wayne Hemingway adds his uniquely witty commentary, as a collector and champion of mass-produced interior design.
Panati’s Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
by Charles Panati / Paperback - 480 pages Reissue edition (September 1989) / HarperCollins
Discover the fascinating stories behind the origins of over 500 everyday items, expressions and customs.
Popular Patents
by Travis Brown / Paperback - 224 pages / Scarecrow Press (September 1, 2000)
Eighty stories of America's first inventions. Each includes a sketch of the invention, a profile of the inventor and a glimpse of how the invention has found its way into American culture.

More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave
by Ruth Schwartz Cowan / Paperback Reprint edition (February 1985) / Basic Books (Sd)
Inventions such as washing machines, cotton cloth, and even white flour acted as catalysts by giving the less well-off a chance at the comforts the prosperous already possessed, but in general it was men and children whose chores were relieved by these innovations.

Never Done: A History of American Housework
by Susan Strasser / Paperback: 361 pages / Owl Books (NY) (November 1, 2000)
It is truly an eye-opening perspective on housework, not to mention a history of the tools of the trade.
A Social History of American Technology
by Ruth Schwartz Cowan / Paperback: 352 pages / Oxford University Press; (December 1996)

This book surveys the history of American technology from the early 17th century to the present,
focusing on the key individuals, ideas, and systems that have shaped the important technological
developments throughout American history

Why Didn't I Think of That?: Bizarre Origins of Ingenious Inventions We Couldn't Live Without
by Allyn Freeman, Bob Golden / Paperback - 260 pages / John Wiley & Sons; (September 1997)
Filled with wacky and fascinating facts, awe-inspiring success statistics, and rags-to-riches stories, Chronicles the odd origins behind 50 famous inventions and reveals the business side of each product's actual production, marketing, and distribution.

ON THE SCREEN:
Bathroom Tech
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / 73182 / Less than $25.00
From tub to toilet to toothpaste, here's everything you ever wanted to know about the most used and least discussed room in the house. From the first home bathrooms in ancient India, Roman latrines, and bizarre Victorian-era bath contraptions, to modern luxurious master bathroom suites, we trace the history of bathing, showering, and oral hygiene.

Digi-tech
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00
See how the computing capacity of World-War II era room-sized computers is now surpassed by hand-held devices; visit Zenith to see a side-by-side comparison of regular television and HDTV; discover how a Cold War era NASA program is transforming personal photography, and get the inside story about MP3s.

Household Wonders  
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / Less than $25.00
HOUSEHOLD WONDERS tells the story of seven taken-for-granted inventions that make modern life comfy, fast and clean: the stove, sewing machine, refrigerator, air conditioner, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, toaster and mixer.

ON THE WEB:
Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers ("AHAM")
Your best source of information about home appliances and the industry organization that represents the manufacturers of home appliances! Lots of product and safety facts but no historical information.
(URL: www.aham.org/)
Most Expensive Household Items
There is one indulgence all billionaires have in common: their home or, as is more likely the case, homes. For the most part, billionaires don't hold back when it comes to feathering their nests. Article by Betsy Schiffman for Forbes magazine.
(URL: www.forbes.com/2004/02/26/cx_bs_0227home.html)
The Birth of the Blender
Racine Wisconsin the birth place of many of today's successful consumer products. The blender, malted milk, milkshake, lollipop, Colby cheese, and the portable vacuum cleaner. Article Land of Milk and Money by Margaret McArthur and Dave Scantland for the Daily Gulett eZine.
(URL: www.egullet.org/tdg.cgi?pg=ARTICLE-blender)
The Carpet Sweeper History
Melville Bissell didn’t start out intending to make carpet sweepers. After all, he and his wife Anna had a successful Grand Rapids crockery shop. As word of the Bissell sweeper got around, Melville and Anna loaded their buggy with carpet sweepers and sold them door-to-door, each taking opposite sides of the street. In 1883 Melville and Anna incorporated Bissell.
(URL: www.bissell.com/main2.asp?Page_id=88)

CIBSE
The Heritage Group Web Site aims to provide information about the activities of the Group and to inform Engineers and other interested persons about the history of the Building Engineering Services industry from its beginnings in the Industrial Revolution.
Includes Hall of Fame section.
(URL: www.hevac-heritage.org/homepage.htm)

The Mystique of the Lava Lamp
At their peak, more than seven million Lava Lamps were sold around the world each year, but by the early 1970s the fad had run its course and sales fell dramatically. Plus random facts section.
(URL: www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A641224)

Quackenbush Family Biography
Found at Darci's Place of Origins - Featuring New York - Wisconsin Biographies and Resources,
Genealogy Lineages, Memoirs, Sketches, Book Indexes All With New York Origins
Everready History
Hubert acquired the patent for the first Eveready flashlight, called an electric hand torch, in 1898.
URL: www.energizer.com/learning/historyofflashlights.asp)
Benjamin Franklin's Inventions
His natural curiosity about things and the way they work made him try to find ways to make them work better.
(URL: sln.fi.edu/franklin/inventor/inventor.html)
Household Appliances and "Women's Work"
Before 1889, household chores were a never-ending process. Women spent the majority of their lives performing the grueling tasks required to maintain a household. In that year, however, electrical appliances began to hit the market and revolutionized the way people kept house.
(URL: www.ieee-virtual-museum.org/collection/event.php?taid=&id=3456874&lid=1)

Household Appliances Timeline
Two major engineering innovations—resistance heating and small, efficient motors—led to electric stoves and irons, vacuum cleaners, washers, dryers, and dishwashers.
(URL: www.greatachievements.org/?id=3768)

Origin Of Electric Christmas Lights
It all began in 1882, just three years after the incandescent bulb was invented. Edward Johnson, Edison’s friend and partner in the Edison Illumination Company in New York City, hand-wired 80 red, white and blue bulbs and wound them around a rotating evergreen tree in his home.
(URL: www.necanet.org/whats_new/report.cfm?ID=2668)
First Recorded Vacuum Claener
Patent 29,077 issued July 10, 1860 to Daniel Hess for the invention of a vacuum cleaner.
(URL: www.vachunter.com/history.htm)
Refridgerator History
Brief description of the evolution of the refrigerator.
(URL: www.historychannel.com/exhibits/modern/fridge.html)
CE Hall of Fame
The creator of the first practical wireless TV remote control, Dr. Robert Adler, paved the way for TV viewers to become couch potatoes more than 40 years ago. From the Consumer Electronis Association.
(URL: www.ce.org/publications/hall_of_fame/adler_r_00.asp)
National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Sewing Machine patented May 30, 1853, patent number 10975, invented by Isaac M. Singer.
(URL: www.150.si.edu/150trav/remember/r822.htm)
A Brief History of the Microwave Oven
Like many of today's great inventions, the microwave oven was a by-product of another technology.
(URL: www.gallawa.com/microtech/history.html)
American Computer Museum
Located in Bozeman, Montana, USA is one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of computer and information age history anywhere on public display!
(URL: www.compustory.com/)
Edison Invents!
All about Edison and his inventions. Thomas Alva Edison changed our world! His genius gave us electric lights in our home. From the Lemelson Center at the Smithsonian.
(URL: invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/edison/default.asp)
The Telephone
From the PBS television series The American Experience: The Telephone
They Invented it When? The Can Opener
News of science, medicine, and technology by Fenella Saunders.
(URL: www.discover.com/issues/mar-01/rd/breakinvented.html)
Modern Television
Pilgrimage to the birthplace of Electronic Television.
(URL: www.moderntv.com/modtvweb/media/birthplace1.htm)

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