Segments in this Video

Dawn of the New Appliance (02:17)


The industrial revolution in America began in the middle of the 19th century. A new middle class was born. Servants began to work for factories and housewives were alone in their houses without help. The time was ripe for new inventions.

19th Century Kitchen Revolution (01:50)

For thousands of years cooking techniques hardly changed and neither did diets because food was dependant on fire. In the 1740s Benjamin Franklin invented a heating stove. The domestic cooking stove coincided with developments in iron.

The Furor Over the Fireplace (03:20)

Early cooking stoves were also heaters. The new invention was not initially accepted by all because the fireplace had long been a symbol of the home. The need for coal sent men to work. Electricity changed the home in many ways.

King of Reheating (02:11)

The original microwave ovens of the 1950s were cumbersome and expensive. The "radar range" was born from experiments with putting food under radio waves. The food industry began supplying products specifically for the new technology.

Electric Home of the Future (03:41)

Advertising executives of the 1950s envisioned the American housewife as Eve living in an electronic Garden of Eden. The invention of electricity in 1879 inaugurated a new age of creativity and invention. Early appliances were luxury items.

The Sabotage of the Sewing Machine (04:42)

The sewing machine is one design that occurred to tailors and inventors all over the world at the same time. France claims the first inventor who deserves a place of honor. Singer found a way to make the sewing machine affordable.

Demand for Mechanical Refrigeration (02:45)

By 1799 ice was a necessity for food preservation and sanitation. By the 19th century commercial ice became an enterprising business. Ice harvesting was expensive. Early refrigerators were powered by steam engines and cooled through air circulation.

The Ice Man Cometh--Every Day But Sunday (01:13)

As early as 1830 ice boxes appeared in American homes. Many doubled as a major piece of furniture. Ice was delivered to the home by men who dripped it all over the floor. By the late 19th century the nation was devouring ice at an astonishing rate.

Cooking with Cold (03:10)

The first domestic refrigerators to go into large scale production were compression machines using sulfur dioxide. A selling point of mechanical refrigerators was the preparation of cold dishes like jello. Payment plans made purchase possible.

Fashionable Appliances (05:29)

After WWII advertisers needed a way to get people to buy more refrigerators. They looked to the auto industry for inspiration. For a period in the 1950s manufacturers changed refrigerator models every year. In 1914 air conditioning was put in to use.

Form Joins Function (04:29)

Even with the washboard laundry was exhausting. A new mechanical washing machine ran on human energy. Later rotary motion became the basis of almost all washing machines. The agitator was developed by Maytag.

The Invention That Started with a Sneeze (03:19)

Early attempts at vacuum cleaning required many hands. A nagging allergy to carpet dust led a janitor to invent the first successful electric vacuum cleaner. Short on funds he showed it to his cousin Mrs. Hoover.

It Toasts... It Cooks... It Brews (04:53)

The kitchen reflects America's high standard of living more than any other room in the house. The modern toaster arrived in 1910. The next 20 years saw strange and wondrous concepts for the toaster. The mixer became wildly popular.

My Dream Kitchen Would Be... (01:36)

The history of household machines has been a chronicle of how people's daily lives have changed. For many women the ultimate kitchen is no kitchen at all.

Credits: Modern Marvels: Household Wonders (01:09)

Credits: Modern Marvels: Household Wonders

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Modern Marvels: Household Wonders

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The Industrial Revolution in America began in the 1850s, creating a new middle class and all but eliminating house servants. This transformation was responsible for the invention of today's household wonders including the stove, microwave, sewing machine and refrigerator. Learn how and why these machines became indispensable to modern homes. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. (45 minutes)

Length: 49 minutes

Item#: BVL42845

Copyright date: ©1997

Closed Captioned

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