The Washing Machine: History and Technology - Essay Example

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The Washing Machine: History and Technology Introduction: In this technological world, we all are surrounded by machines. There are many technologies that we use in our daily life without realizing how they have changed our way of living and how we could have been affected without them…
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The Washing Machine: History and Technology
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"The Washing Machine: History and Technology"

One such important invention was of a “washing machine”. Before the advent of electrical motors, washing machines were not as specialized and automatic as they seem today. In fact the earlier version of washing machines does not resemble anything like the current picture. History: In ancient times, doing laundry was an exhausting activity. Women used to pound clothes on hard rocks and use abrasive sands to remove dirt. Sometimes clothes were put in a pot filled with hot water and remained soaked overnight to enhance cleaning. Scrubbing board was then introduced to ease the hardship of laundry. It was invented in 1797 and many considered it to be the first form of washing machine. (Landau). It was a wooden board with ridges and grooved surface. Women used to rub there cloths against the rough surface of the board. But it did not proved to be very productive as most of the washing still required a lot of human effort. So there was a need of better and more complex equipment. I personally believe that most of the inventions had some inspiration behind and this was an example of the same. In 1874 William Blackstone made the world’s first washing machine as a birthday gift for his wife. (Landau). This machine required to be operated by hand and constitute a wooden tub with wooden spikes. The clothes use to rub against the pegs to give a scrubbing effect but unfortunately also caused them to torn. The first electric washing machine was developed in 1900 (Landau) but the credit for it was shared by many due to ambiguous patent descriptions and claims. It was an open design and electric hazard was inevitable as electrical circuits were exposed to water. It was soon replaced by agitator design in 1922 developed by Maytag Corporation. These washing machines had a dome shaped structure called agitator which rotate clothes and water in both directions. Automatic washing machines were developed during 1960. The prominent features include the ability to set timers, control the strength of the flow which can be adjusted according to the type of cloth being washed. Since then many new advancements have taken place and more intelligent washing machines are invented to facilitate the process of washing with minimal or no human effort. Today washing machines not only wash clothes but also dry them to perfection. Role in Industrial Revolution Now many would wonder if washing machines really contributed in the industrial revolution that started in the 19th century. The answer is quite interesting. Directly they did not endowed much to the revolution but indirectly they had a great impact. As we know that introduction of washing machine greatly reduced the time spent by a women on household chores. Hence it drives the female population to look for work outside the house. The success of industrial revolution was the availability of labor and as the statistic shows that a good percentage of those workers were women. (Burnette). So it contributed by restructuring norm of a society where women were able to recognize their role as a potential worker. During the California gold rush in 1850, many men came from China to seek for fortune but discrimination left them stranded with no job. Miners working for gold extraction needed their clothes to be washed and Chinese, desperate for work, were quick to recognize the need and started to wash their Read More
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