- The 20th century saw some of the most important inventions that have shaped our world today.
- Some appliances that were invented include the vacuum, the air conditioner, and the blow dryer.
- The television, the computer, and the cell phone were also invented in the 1900s.
- But none of the inventions look like what we are used to today.
But looking back at these inventions, each one has dramatically changed over the years. While some of the technologies were made for the kitchen and some for the office, all of them look completely different today compared to when they were first invented.
Take a look at some of the inventions to see how far we have come.
Before the invention of the vacuum, people would clean the floors with brooms and mops.
The idea for a vacuum can be traced back to the mid-1800s, when inventors created rotating brushes attached to wheels for easier cleanup. They continued to create more innovative devices to alleviate the work of sweeping, which eventually led to the electric brush in 1911.
The original vacuum cleaner was invented in 1901.
The original vacuum wasn’t the most well thought out idea. An inventor named Hubert Booth decided to clean railway carriages by blasting the furniture with compressed air. Of course, once blown out, the dust would settle right back on the furniture.
By 1908, the vacuum cleaner looked more like what we are used to today.
In 1908, the vacuum was redesigned to use suction and capture the dust in a bag. The design was sold to the Hoover company, which still operates today. Vacuums come in all shapes and sizes these days, but the most advanced is the Roomba, which cleans the floors by memorising the layout of your home.
In 1908, the first electric washing machine was created.
Before the washing machine, people would clean their clothes by washing them in tubs and hanging them out to dry. But by 1908, the Thor washing machine was created, which washed, rinsed, and dried clothes. These very expensive machines were rarely seen in homes at the time.
By the 1960s, the washing machine was common in every home.
As the electric washing machine gained popularity, the design became more simple and sturdy. At the time “twin tubs” were also common where one side was used to wash and the other side was used to dry. Eventually, they were combined again into a single automatic.
When clothes were dried, clothes irons were used to get rid of wrinkles.
Although the clothes iron was invented in the late 1800s, it wasn’t until the mid-1900s that the electric clothes iron became popular in homes. By the ’50s, irons were able to switch between steam and dry, and it could even shut off on its own.
Steam mangles were also used to iron out garments.
The mangle, which is comprised of a roller, has been around for centuries and can even be found in some Victorian homes. They were best used for large garments and bedding.
In 1947, advances in technology helped create the microwave oven.
Just after World War II in 1945, the microwave oven was invented after discovering microwaves could cook food faster than heat. At first, they were too big and too expensive to become popular. Not to mention, many people feared the use of radiation.
The first microwave oven for home-use went up for sale in 1955.
By the mid-1970s, about 4% of homes had a microwave. Today, that number has jumped to 90% of homes.
At the beginning of the century, refrigerators were referred to as iceboxes.
Iceboxes were typically made of wood and filled with ice. They paneled the inside with tin or cork to try and keep the box cooler for longer. When the ice would melt, it would drip into a tray at the bottom of the box.
By 1940, the electric refrigerator was invented.
The iceboxes lasted through the ’20s and ’30s until the invention of the electric refrigerator, which cooled foods via a cooling unit that was affixed atop the unit. By the ’50s, almost every home had a fridge in the kitchen and set the standards for safer food conditions.
Inventions eventually started to pop up that were more focused on luxury, like the air conditioning unit.
Before the 20th century, people would deal with the heat of summer days by fanning themselves. But in 1902, everything changed when engineer Willis Carrier developed the first cooling unit. At first, it wasn’t for home-use but created to cool down the printing plant where Carrier worked. But by the mid-century, homes were steadily equipped with a cooling device, usually in the window.
Before the invention of the blow dryer, women would get pretty creative about drying their hair …
When women would get their hair done at salons, there weren’t always handheld blow dryers. Sometimes women placed an airtight bag over their hair and attached a vacuum of sorts to the top of the bag. Once the vacuum was turned on, it would blow dry their hair.
By the 1920s, the invention of the hand-held dryer made drying your hair much easier.
The first hair dryer was invented in the 1920s and only used 100 watts of heat, so it would take a long time to dry a full head of hair. The hand-held devices were heavy and bulky and often overheated. By the ’60s, hair dryers were made of lighter material and resembled more of what we are used to today.
The television is another invention that changed the way we experience the world.
In 1928, General Electric made the first television set called the Octagon. It used mechanical and disc technology to play only one show called “The Queen’s Messenger.” It wasn’t sold for commercial use, but as the years went on, the device had several redesigns and became a popular item for the wealthy to buy.
By 1960, the televisions became bigger and grew to become a focal point in the home.
By the ’50s and ’60s, television was popular amongst many homes in the United States, and it wasn’t just for the wealthy anymore. In fact, by 1951, 12 million homes in the country had some version of the television. Today, the television has been redesigned several more times and can be purchased with flat screens and even 3D technology.
Another great invention of the 20th century was the creation of the computer.
Throughout the 1900s, computers were being redesigned and redesigned to slowly resemble what we know them to be today.
The computers were used mainly for engineering and scientific evaluations.
During the ’50s and ’60s, computers were not sold to consumers. They were largely used to compute difficult equations in record time. For example, the E101 computer – which cost about $US33,000 – could cut manual computation time by as much as 95%, according to its maker, the Burroughs Corporation.
As computers started to advance, an emphasis on personalised consumer-based versions were produced.
By the ’80s, a number of personal computers hit the market, paving the way for Apple to create its now famous models.
Eventually, an emphasis on portable devices led to the invention of the cell phone.
The cell phone was one of the last great inventions to come out of the 20th century, and perhaps made the biggest impact on our culture. The first phones were too large to actually carry around so they were left in cars for travel. They weren’t immediately popular, but they did become pop icons, appearing in shows like “Saved by the Bell.” Eventually, as more features advanced the cell phone, it became increasingly popular worldwide.
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