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Cochrane was a rich woman who hosted frequent dinner parties. She did not do any of the dishes herself because she had servants to do that for her, but she wanted a machine that could do the job faster without chipping any dishes. No one had invented such a machine so she built one herself. She is said to have exclaimed, "If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I'll do it myself!"First she measured the dishes. Then she built wire compartments, each specially designed to fit either plates, cups, or saucers. The compartments were placed inside a wheel that lay flat inside a copper boiler. A motor turned the wheel while hot soapy water squirted up from the bottom of the boiler and rained down on the dishes. Her friends were very impressed and had her make dishwashing machines for them, calling them the "Cochrane Dishwasher".
The word was spread and soon, Cochrane was getting orders for her dishwashing machine from restaurants and hotels in Illinois. She patented her design and went into production. She showed her invention at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and won the highest prize for "best mechanical construction, durability and adaptation to its line of work". She started the , which became part of KitchenAid, which became part of Whirlpool.
Initially, the machines sold well to businesses, but not to individual consumers. Some homemakers admitted that they enjoyed washing dishes by hand, and the machines reportedly left a soapy residue on the dishes. They also demanded a great deal of hot water, and many homes did not have hot water heaters large enough to supply the machine sufficiently. The machines' popularity skyrocketed in the 1950s, when technology, womens' attitudes toward housework, and dishwashing detergent, changed in the dishwasher's favor. Today, the dishwasher is a part of the typical American household.
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