Did you know that Josephine Cochrane was born today in 1839? When she could not find a machine that could quickly and carefully wash dishes, she designed her own automatic dishwasher in a shed behind her home. She presented the ‘Cochrane Dishwasher’ at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where she won the highest prize for “best mechanical construction, durability, and adaptation to its line of work”. Soon she received orders for her dishwashing machine from hotels and restaurants. Dishwashers would not become a common appliance in homes until the 1950’s when improved plumbing ensured a reliable source of hot water.
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Josephine Cochrane and her husband hosted many social dinners. She became frustrated when her fragile dishes kept on being chipped or broken while being washed by hand.
The impetus to design her dishwashing machine came when her husband died and she was left with his debts. Other dishwashing machines had been invented before, but none were commercially successful. Cochrane was determined to create a machine that would meet a consumer need and become successful.
The dishwasher Cochrane designed had wheel-like cage that spun inside a copper boiler. Inside the wire cage were wire compartments designed to fit plates, cups, saucers, and bowls. As the wheel turned, hot soapy water was sprayed on to the dishes to clean them. Her dishwasher was the first to use water pressure instead of scrubbers to clean the dishes.
George Butlers was a mechanic that helped Josephine Cochrane construct her first dishwasher. Later he also worked at the Garis-Cochran dishwasher factory.
The company Josephine Cochrane created, Garis-Cochran Manufacturing Company, eventually became the company KitchenAid.