Ever think about who invented the toaster? This modern electronic miracle makes it possible for Americans to enjoy wonderful toasted bread with the push of a button, but most people take it for granted.
A British Invention
The very first toaster isn't the American version that became the springboard for modern-day toasters. In fact, the first electric toaster was invented by a British company called Crompton and Company. This first toaster was invented in 1893 by a company that also made space heaters. Rookes Crompton's design had iron heating coils that were exposed, and users had to flip the bread themselves to brown both sides. From a safety standpoint, the Crompton design would never make it today, but it certainly was easy to clean.
Toasters Pop Up in America
In 1905, an American by the name of Albert Marsh created something called Nichrome wire. This metal filament could withstand heat long enough to toast bread, and it became an integral part of toaster evolution.
In the five years following the development of Nichrome wire, toaster invention got a little blurry. One company called Hotpoint claimed to have created the first toaster in 1905. However, this claim was made after the fact in an ad that ran twelve years later-in 1917-claiming credit as the first toaster. No patents were filed, and it's impossible to substantiate this claim.
To further muddy the waters, a man named George Schneider applied for a toaster patent in 1906. His toaster was never built, however, and the application seemed to fall by the wayside in light of the first commercially-successful toaster.
GE created the first commercially successful toaster, which it patented in 1909. Frank Shailor invented the GE toaster, and GE claims credit for the invention of the toaster, although two other toasters were available on the market at about the same time.
Enter Charles Strite
The big problem with early toasters was that the process was manual. People had to watch the toast and turn the device off when they thought it was finished. Charles Strite developed the first toaster that modern Americans would recognize; the pop-up toaster. While this toaster still only toasted on one side, it had a clockwork timer that shut down the heating elements and pushed the toast up out of the machine. It still had to be watched, but it was the first step to creating an automated system. Strite patented the pop-up toaster in 1919.
Using an updated version of Charles Strite's pop-up toaster, The Waters Gentry Company introduced the first automatic pop-up toaster in 1925. The Toastmaster was completely automated, using a timer to determine when the toast should pop up. It was also the first toaster that could toast the bread on both sides at the same time.
Modern toasters have come a long way from the simple pop-up timer variety. Toasters now have a variety of settings, and some toasters can tell the time or make eggs for you in the morning.
Take a look back at life in 1900, when keeping a home clean meant hours of manual labor.
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