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March 28, 2022

“I’ll Do It Myself!” – Josephine Cochran, the Inventor of the Automatic Dishwasher

Josephine Cochrane (1839–1913) was an American inventor who was the inventor of the first commercially successful automatic dishwasher, which she designed in the shed behind her home; she then constructed it engaging the assistance of mechanic George Butters, who became one of her first employees. She is claimed to have said “If nobody else is going to invent a dish washing machine, I’ll do it myself!” Once her patent issued on December 28, 1886, she founded Garis-Cochrane Manufacturing Company to manufacture her machines.

Cochrane showed her new machine at the World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 where nine Garis-Cochran washers were installed in the restaurants and pavilions of the fair and was met with interest from restaurants and hotels, where hot water access was not an issue. She won the highest prize for “best mechanical construction, durability and adaptation to its line of work” at the Fair. Garis-Cochran Manufacturing Company, which built both hand and power operated dishwashers, grew through a focus on hotels and other commercial customers and was renamed as Cochran’s Crescent Washing Machine Company in 1897.

Cochran’s Crescent Washing Machine Company became part of KitchenAid through acquisition by Hobart Manufacturing Company after Cochran’s death in 1913, who first grew the commercial business, and in 1949, the first KitchenAid dishwasher based on Cochran’s design was introduced to the public.

By the 1950s, most households had access to hot water which had been limited in the past and cultural attitudes regarding the role of women were shifting so the consumer home market opened for dishwashers in the 1950s.

Stamp of Romania, 2013.

Cochran was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006 for patent 355,139 issued on December 28, 1886, for her invention of the dishwasher.


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