Did you know? . ..
right in our own Shelby County, Illinois
Photo courtesy of the Shelby County Historical Society
Mrs. Josephine Cochran,
Shelbyville, Illinois native
Inventor of the "Automatic Dishwasher"
Information from a Mattoon Journal Gazette article by Sue Smyser.
On an ordinary day in the
1880s, a Shelbyville woman took a dirty bowl and plate and made
Garis Cochran was the first person to build a practical dish-washing
succeeding where some had tried and failed.
Working in a wood shed in back of the Cochran house, with the help of George Butters, a young mechanic, she built a dish-washing machine. The United States Patent and Trademark Office said she measured the dishes first, then made wire compartments, each designed to fit plates, cups or saucers. "The compartments were placed inside a wheel that lay flat within a copper boiler. A motor turned the wheel while hot, soapy water squirted from the bottom of the boiler and rained down on the dishes."
The invention, though practical, also required manual labor .One article said the soapy water was forced on the dishes by hand pumping. Cochran discovered the dishes would dry in the air after clear boiling water was poured over them from a tea kettle. Operating instructions for the later models said, "Put concentrated lye, with gold dust or sal soda, as needed in the water:"
Excited about the invention, friends and neighbors urged her to manufacture the machine for home and commercial use. She applied for a patent and received it on Dec. 28,1886. People wrote testimonials, such as "Dear Mrs. Cochran, Please accept my congratulations on the success of that wonderful piece of mechanism, the 'Dish Washer.' Having Seen it work, I can testify that it will do all work required, as advertised, and am assured that it will be as indispensable to our homes as the sewing machine. No one who is in need of such an article and understands the worth and value of such a machine would think of doing without it. Respectfully, Mrs. L.S. Baldwin, Windsor, ill., Feb. 5, 1889."
Cochran showed the
dishwasher at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair , but only restaurants and
interest in it. She founded a company to manufacture her dishwashers
in time became Kitchen Aid, but it wasn't until many years after her
that the machine captured the attention of the average housewife. The
didn't gain popularity for home use until the 1950s.
TO SEE SOME ACTUAL PICTURES OF THE BUILT DISHWASHER
Return to Inventions and Inventors Activity Page
Return to Learning On-Line Resource Page