The electric washing machine was the status symbol of middle class housewives during the 1950s. It introduced a number of new features such as a spin cycle and electromechanical timers, and eventually became obsolete by the 1980s. The most notable feature of the 1950s washing machine was its rotating drum design. The rotating drum was a revolution in washing machine technology, but its design was eventually rendered obsolete by the electromechanical timer.
Electric washing machines became status symbols for middle class housewives in the 1950s
The invention of the electric washing machine is disputed. Although Alva J. Fisher has been mistakenly credited as the inventor, there was already one prior patent (US patent number 921195) in existence. Woodrow is another early inventor. Although the inventor of the electric washer is unknown, sales peaked in the US in 1928 at 913,000 units. Sales declined to 600,000 units in 1932, largely due to the Depression years and the resulting high unemployment.
By the 1950s, more households had electricity. This meant that some families could afford washing machines and refrigerators. These new appliances saved housewives time and energy. In some countries, the caste system still existed, so many manual machines still used crank handles. However, electric washing machines were becoming status symbols for middle-class housewives. And while the first models of the electric washing machine were designed with housewives in mind, the design of the first machines was still based on a spinning metal drum. The clothes are inserted into the metal drum, which spins within a water-filled container. While the clothes are spinning, the soap entraps fatty particles and dust.
These appliances were first used in the United States during the early 1940s. But in Great Britain, only 2.8% of households used these machines in 1948. After the war, price reductions led to a significant change. While front-loading machines dominated the market for a while, automatic machines became the dominant type of washing machines in the UK. By the early 1970s, front-loading machines became the norm.
Electromechanical timers replaced electromechanical timers
Automatic washing machines have relied on electromechanical timers for control since they first appeared. The timer consists of a series of cams on a common shaft, each one actuating a switch to engage or disengage the machinery. The mechanism works by detecting when the washing machine has finished and halting the process when the wash cycle is complete. In 1950s washing machines, electromechanical timers replaced those used in earlier machines.
Some models rely on bimetallic fingers to switch on and off, which expands when heated by an electric current. The majority of electromechanical timers use a synchronous motor to turn a cam through switch contacts. A friction clutch is often present between the cam and the gear train. This means that you can program an electromechanical timer to do whatever you need it to do.
The process of spinning out water is another innovation that came from the 1950s. The spinning process requires a high-speed power source to function correctly. Earlier versions of washing machines did this separately in a separate device called an “extractor.” The machine would transfer the loaded laundry to the extractor basket and spin out the water separately. Early extractors were dangerous to use because the load was unevenly distributed, causing the machine to shake violently.
In the 1960s, twin tub washing machines became popular. In the 1970s, electric motor speed control became a common feature in upmarket models. And in the 1990s, microcontrollers were used to control the timer process in upmarket washing machines. The last top loading horizontal axis washing machine manufactured in the United States was the System 2000. There are many other examples of similar machines in the market today.
Rotative drum design was a milestone in washing machine technology
The Bendix home appliances company introduced the first automatic washing machine in 1937. Unlike the modern automatic washing machines, this model was not suspended, meaning the drum was permanently attached to the floor. In addition, it used costly equipment and heavy-duty 2-speed gears to move the drum. The Whirlpool company also made its washing machine with heavy-duty gearboxes and electric motors.
The rotation of the drum was one of the key challenges in designing the first automatic washing machines. The machine needed a suitable motor and a way to transfer power to the drum. A large motor would need sufficient torque to move the drum, but a small enough motor would protect the orator from shock. Other approaches included gears and shafts, and some machines used a belt or chain drive. A fractional horsepower motor was employed to overcome the initial resistance of the machine. This was a significant improvement, as the motor could protect the orator from electric shock.
The rotating drum design was one of the most important innovations in 1950s washing machine technology. Before steam-powered commercial machines, washing machines were hand-powered. Hamilton Smith, who invented the rotary washing machine, patented the idea in 1858. In the United States, however, the focus was on home washing machines. Hamilton Smith patented the rotary washing machine in 1858, and the company used this model for decades. The Thor brand is still used today.
The original model of the washing machine had a hand-cranked wringer that squeezed the water out of the clothes, but it did not dry them out. The wringers had to be manually fed through each piece of clothing, causing injuries to fingers. Later, a spinning process was developed that spun the clothing at high speed in a perforated container. Centrifugal force caused the clothes to dry.
Electric washing machines with spin cycles became obsolete by the 1980s
Before the invention of spin cycles on electric washing machines, there were other difficulties involved. The machine required a suitable motor, a way to transfer power, and a mechanism to protect the orator from shock. Some washing machines were belt or chain driven, while others used gears or shafts. Eventually, a fractional horsepower motor was used to overcome resistance, prevent electric shock, and allow the machine to start and spin.
Electric washing machines with spin cycles were developed in the 1930s. The first automatic washing machine was produced by Bendix Home Appliances and was patented the same year. While it was not nearly as convenient as the automatic machines we have today, it lacked a drum suspension system, which made it difficult to keep the drum level. Those early machines were not safe, and were required to be anchored to the floor.
As demand increased for these machines, manufacturers struggled to meet demand and the price was very high. This led to shortages of materials and a slow growth in the number of automatic washing machines. In 1953, automatic washing machine sales surpassed wringer-type electric machines for the first time. Nevertheless, these machines still lasted for decades and were quite expensive. By the 1980s, however, electric washing machines without spin cycles had become obsolete.
The invention of electrical washing machines with spin cycles changed the way we wash clothes. They made the process faster, so we could complete other chores with more time. And, with each new invention, machines improved. The water level, spin, and load size were all improved. Other improvements included a cold-water cycle and an additional wash cycle. The machine became so complex that it no longer required a wringer.
Hybrid washing machines became popular in the 1990s
Energy efficiency was one of the major concerns of washers of the 1990s, and the new generation of front-loading washing machines met these standards. They used less energy to run, use less water, and are more environmentally friendly. In addition, they use less electricity to set the water temperature. The energy efficiency of these machines was further enhanced by the introduction of insulated water tanks and efficient thermostats. Consequently, the energy use of washing machines fell by about 10 percent, and the machine became popular with consumers.
A major challenge in the development of these machines was to find a suitable motor, and to find a means of transferring the power. The motor should be powerful enough to generate the necessary initial torque, but the motor must be protected from electric shocks. Some early washing machines used belt or chain drive systems, while others relied on gears and shafts. A fractional horsepower motor was installed to overcome the resistance when starting the machine and prevent electric shocks.
Hybrid washing machines were first introduced in the mid-1990s by Fisher & Paykel. In 1998, the company introduced its SmartDrive washing machine line. This machine combined a conventional wash with an advanced computer-controlled system. It had two main wash cycles: the Eco-Active and the Classic. The latter used a low-level recirculated water cycle and a direct drive brushless DC electric motor.
The development of washing machines also contributed to an increase in the economic viability of some countries. In China, many agricultural markets had opened up in the late 1990s, and the cleaner a vegetable was, the higher the price. The innovation resulted in a vegetable washing machine that accommodated extra soil from the tubers. A hybrid washing machine was born, and its benefits are still being realized today.