State Historic Site

Trail End

​Consumer Appliance Timeline


THE BASIC SCIENCE of electricity was known for many years before Thomas Edison and others put it to practical use in the late 1800s. Once Edison and his associates broke the barrier between theory and application, however, a flood of new, electric-powered appliances and labor-savers washed over the country! Eager consumers couldn't wait to purchase them, and men like Edison couldn't wait to sell them. "Anything that won't sell," he said, "I don't want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success."

The first third of the 20th Century saw the creation of many home devices, from flashlights and batteries to refrigerators and garbage disposals. Most of these inventions should be familiar to you. What might astound you, however, is how early many of them were created. Who knew that the electric doorbell has been around for nearly 200 years, or that the KitchenAid mixer is about to celebrate its one hundredth birthday!



1800 - 1879

1800  -  Electric battery invented by Alessandro Volta
1820  -  First electric light demonstrated by Warren de la Rue
1821  -  Electric motor invented by Michael Faraday
1821  -  Electric doorbell invented by Joseph Henry
1854  -  First light bulb invented by Heinrich Goebel
1865  -  Patent for electric coffee percolator issued to James Nason
1875  -  Light bulb patented by Woodward & Evans
1879  -  First practical incandescent light bulb demonstrated by Thomas Edison



1880 - 1899


1880  -  First electric elevator constructed
1881  -  First commercially successful dry cell battery invented by Carl Gassner
1882  -  Electric Christmas lights introduced by Edward Johnson
1882  -  Electric iron patented by Henry Seely
1885  -  Electric mixer patented by Rufus Eastman
1886  -  Electric dishwasher invented by Josephine Cochrane
1886  -  Electric fan invented by Schuyler Wheeler
1889  -  Home electric sewing machine introduced by Singer
1890  -  First electric hair dryer patented by Alexandre Godefoy
1891  -  Electric stove invented by Carpenter Electric Heating Co.
1891  -  Alternating current (AC) introduced in U. S.
1893  -  Electric toaster invented
1896  -  Electric stove first patented (not for home use)
1898  -  Battery-powered flashlight invented
1899  -  Rechargeable battery invented by Waldemar Jungner



1900 - 1909


1900  -  Electric toy trains invented by Joshua Lionel Cowen
1901  -  Alkaline battery invented by Thomas Edison
1901  -  Electric vacuum cleaner invented by Hubert Booth
1902  -  First electric air conditioner in operation in Brooklyn
1903  -  First electric washing machines patented
1903  -  Lightweight electric iron introduced by Earl Richardson
1903  -  Flashlight patented by Conrad Hubert
1905  -  First movable vacuum cleaner invented; weighs 92 pounds; doesn't sell well
1906  -  Permanent wave machine invented by Karl Nessler
1907  -  Electric amplifier invented by Lee De Forest
1908  -  Lightweight portable upright electric vacuum cleaner invented by James Spangler
1908  -  Electric coffee percolators first appear in American stores
1908  -  Spangler's electric vacuum cleaner patented by William Henry Hoover
1908  -  First electric-powered washing machine, the "Thor," introduced by Alva Fisher
1908  -  Standing mixer patented by Herbert Johnson
1909  -  First American-made electric toaster introduced



1910 - 1919


1910  -  Hotpoint introduces the first electric stove
1911  -  Single-beater electric mixer patented by Hamilton Beach
1911  -  Waffle iron introduced by General Electric
1911  -  Neon lights invented
1913  -  Electric dishwasher introduced by Walker Brothers
1913  -  Bissell introduces 33-pound Electric Suction Cleaner
1913  -  First in-home electric refrigerator introduced by General Electric
1915  -  Electric clothes dryers appear on the market
1915  -  Oven thermostat developed
1915  -  Nine-pound vacuum cleaner introduced by Franz
1916  -  Kelvinator introduces its first electric refrigerator
1916  -  First electric lawn mower introduced
1916  -  First radios with tuners allowed listeners to change stations
1918  -  First refrigerator with automatic controls introduced by Kelvinator
1919  -  Pop-up toaster with built-in timer invented by Charles Strite
1919  -  Stand mixer for the home introduced by KitchenAid
1919  -  Cone-shaped Christmas lights introduced by General Electric



1920 - 1931


1920  -  More than 200 different brands of refrigerators sold in U.S.
1920  -  Airway introduces vacuum cleaner with disposable bags
1920  -  First commercial radio broadcasts with regularly scheduled programming heard
1922  -  Electric blender invented by Stephen Poplawski
1922  -  Electric kettle introduced
1922  -  Over 3 million electric irons have been sold since 1912
1922  -  Radios appear in 3 million American households
1923  -  Frigidaire introduces electric "self-contained" refrigerator
1923  -  Cathode ray tube for television invented by Vladimir Kosma Zworykin
1924  -  Air conditioners first used for human comfort rather than industrial cooling
1924  -  Loudspeaker for music invented by Kellogg & Rice
1924  -  Spin dryer appears on the market
1925  -  Frosted light bulbs first produced
1926  -  Toastmaster's pop-up toaster invented in 1919 finally goes into production
1927  -  Electric in-sink garbage disposal introduced
1927  -  Electric iron with temperature control introduced by Silex
1927  -  Quartz-powered clock developed by Warren Marrison
1927  -  Experimental fluorescent lamp patented
1927  -  Monitor Top refrigerator introduced by General Electric
1927  -  GE introduces first in-home television receiver
1928  -  First air conditioners for home use introduced by Carrier
1928  -  Electric "Mixmaster" patented by Sunbeam Corporation
1928  -  Improved electric permanent wave machine patented by Marjorie Joyner
1928  -  Over 45% of American homes have a radio
1929  -  Electric shaver introduced by Jacob Schick
1930  -  First plastic vacuum cleaners introduced
1931  -  First television broadcasts made in U.S.
1931  -  GE introduces first room air conditioning unit
1931  -  1.2 million toasters sold in America
1931  -  Henry Ford presented with one millionth GE Monitor Top refrigerator
1931  -  Electric can opener introduced

Independent of the Sun

Light, Energy & the American Home, 1913-1933

A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site
​March 2007 - December 2007

 Good Housekeeping, 1926 (SCHS Collection, TESHS)

Detail from drawing of custom-made foyer chandelier, 1911 (Trail End Collection)