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Who Invented The Washing Machine?

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It may seem hard to believe that the first modern style-washing machine existed as far back as 1851, but historians have found that a type of washing machine that used a drum like the ones we use today was created in the late 18th century. Before the washing machine, people had to use fresh water, rocks, and other scrubbing devices to remove dirt from their clothes. How lucky we are that we are able to throw our clothes in a machine that does all of the work for us! The following is a brief history of the washing machine, including the people associated with its invention and improvement.

Hamilton Smith's 1858 washing machine patentHamilton Smith’s 1858 washing machine patent. View online.

James King

In America, in 1851, James King designed the first modern-style washing machine. The washing machine employed a drum device that is still used often in washing machines today. One aspect that differentiates our washing machine from King’s was that King’s washing machine still required hand power. However, King’s invention was a step in the right direction towards a machine washer.

Thor was the first mass produced electric washing machineThor was the first mass produced electric washing machine. Credit.

Rotary washing machine

During the 19th century, two great improvements were made to the washing machine that James King had developed. First, in 1858, Hamilton Smith created the first rotary powered washing machine. About twenty years later, William Blackstone created the first machine-washing washer, and he presented his creation to his wife as a birthday present. These two improvements were the precursors to the electric powered washing machine that was to come.

Alva J. Fisher

The next great creation in the washing machine field came in 1908. Alva J. Fisher, who worked for the Hurley Washing Machine Company, created the first electric powered washing machine. In Chicago, Fisher called his machine the Mighty Thor. What separated Fisher’s design from previous washing machines was the electric motor that Fisher installed within the machine. The electric motor powered the machine in a faster and more effective way that had not been possible in earlier versions of the washing machine. Fisher’s machine allowed for large loads of wash to be done in record time, and his machine made the washing machines of today possible.

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