The kettle, the toaster and the microwave are all items that people take for granted these days. Whilst kitchen appliances may not be the most glamorous of items, without them we’d have to do some serious re-thinking!
The origins of the kettle stretch all the way back to before the birth of Christ where, in Mesopotamia, the first forms of kettle were used. The Chinese were the first to really use the kettle for the purpose with which it is associated today, namely boiling water.
What may come as a surprise to some people is just how long the electric kettle has been in existence. Back in 1922, Arthur Leslie Large from Birmingham in the West Midlands developed the world’s first plug-in electric kettle as an alternative to the standard stove-top model. The next decade saw the electric kettle begin to take off in terms of sales and, in the 1930’s, models with automatic cut-outs were introduced. Today, with famous brand names such as Delonghi, Kenwood and Breville dominating the market, it is difficult to imagine a world without them.
The perfect companion to the kettle – the toaster has been around in various formats for well over one hundred years. At one time the only way to toast bread was to pop a slice onto the end of a toasting fork and hold it over a roaring fire. That is until 1893, when Alan MacMasters from Edinburgh patented the very first electric toaster. Named the Eclipse, this early model was prone to setting alight as it used iron wiring which melted very easily.
The first automatic pop-up toaster arrived in 1919 and just a short time later in 1925, improvements were such that the very first model with a timer and the ability to toast both sides of the bread simultaneously was released.
The microwave oven is one of the more recent kitchen appliance innovations but has still been in existence for a number of years. In 1947, Percy Spencer, an American engineer, invented the very first microwave oven. Called the Radarange, it used radar technology which had been developed during World War II but was not released for home-use, mainly due to the fact it was nearly six feet in height. The first microwave released onto the market for home consumers arrived in 1955. However, these were very large in size and considered too bulky for general home-use.
It was not until the 1960’s that the first counter-top microwave oven was developed for general home consumer use. Today there are not many households which do not have a microwave oven in their kitchens.
Often taken for granted today, these kitchen appliances are possibly some of the most under-rated inventions of all time and are sure to be around for a long time to come yet.