We owe the invention of the washing machine to Jacob Christian Schäffer (1767). 30 years later, an American, Nathaniel Briggs, obtained the first patent for a washing machine. It involved pouring hot water into a tank, turning a lever to wash the clothes and then wringing them between two rollers. The tank was then drained using a tap.

210 years further on, the electric washing machine was invented.

Modern washing machines Histoire de Speed Queen

In 1905, the first drum washing machines appeared. They were still hand-operated but the steel tank allowed for a coal burner to be included.

Towards 1920, the first electric machines were born: only the turning mechanism was electric.  The remaining controls were still manual.

The arrival of automatic machines

It was only in 1930 that the machines became automatic. Pressure switches, thermostats and timers were included in the new models.  From the 1980s onwards, advances in the field of electronics meant washing machines became reactive and ecological:

  • Adjustment of parameters thanks to sensors: water level, rate, spinning …
  • Weight sensing
  • Different cycles: colors, whites, wool, synthetics …
  • Energy and water saving

In 1990, a British inventor, James Dyson, produced a washing machine with two cylinders which turned in opposite directions, thus reducing washing times and giving better results.

Today’s washing machines

Nowadays, washing machines are connected to the internet and may have integrated Wi-Fi for deferred startup of washing programs, for instance during off-peak times when electricity costs are at their lowest. Some models work without detergent, thanks to electrolysis, which separates the positive and negative ions. Some machines will soon be equipped with touch screens, following the example of the models presented by American leader in the field, Speed Queen.

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