Welcome to You Ask Andy

Geraldine Rhodes, age 12, of Lowell, Mass., for her question:


There are about 60 basic appliances. Most are run by electricity although some operate on gas. Many of the appliances were introduced during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Included among the most important appliances are devices for cooking and storing food, for washing and drying clothes and for cleaning the home. Appliances have helped to revolutionize people's lives by decreasing the drudgery, hard work and monotony of housework.

The first electric irons, coffeemakers and toasters appeared before 1900. A hand iron patented in 1882 was one of the first applications of electricity to an appliance.

The first practical motor driven clothes washer was marketed in 1908 and the first practical home refrigerator went on sale in 1912. However, refrigerators were not widely sold until the mid 1920s.

Actually, only 10 appliances were generally available in the 1920s. In addition to refrigerators, these were clothes washers, stoves, irons, vacuum cleaners, toasters, hot plates, fans, dishwashers and clocks.

The 1930s saw the introduction of electric bed coverings, automatic clothes washers and food waste disposers. Room air conditioners went on the market between 1932 and 1937 but they were not well received and very few were sold. They were then withdrawn from sale.

Because of defense production, almost no appliances were made during World War II. New products right after the war included electric frypans, food freezers, portable mixers and improved air conditioners.

More than 90 out of every 100 homes in the United States and Canada today have refrigerators. These range from small units for kitchenettes to large freezer refrigerator combinations.

More than 20 kinds of appliances are produced that make the job of mixing and cooking food easier and less time consuming. Heading the list is either an electric or gas stove.

Other popular food preparation appliances include automatic electric coffeemakers, frypans, waffle irons, griddles and toasters. There are also mixers to combine the ingredients for baked goods and other foods. And don't forget corn poppers, can openers and knife sharpeners.

Today automatic washers fill with water, then wash, rinse, extract water from the clothes and stop with virtually no attention. Automatic clothes driers then dry clothes in any weather.

Other appliances that help keep the home neat and clean include vacuum cleaners, floor polishers and dishwashers.

Electric blankets and sheets have almost eliminated the need for a pile of covers during cold weather. Electric heating pads have replaced the old fashioned hot water bottles, and air conditioners keep home comfortable.


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