Inventing the Dishwasher (Josephine Cochran)

The discovery of chips around the edges of her beautiful china dishes was a disheartening sight for Josephine Cochran. In the process of being hand washed, her delicate plates and cups had suffered damage. Luckily, Josephine Cochran (who often spelled her last name with an e) was a visionary who refused to accept this damage as an inevitable part of the cleaning process. In 1886, her dissatisfaction with the traditional way of washing dishes led to the invention and patent of a dishwashing machine that would come to be known as the, "Cochrane Dishwasher."

Inventor Josephine Cochran was born to Irene and John Garis in March of 1839. She joined a family of ingenuity and creative talents. For example, her father John used his skills as a civil engineer in Chicago during the 1850s. Furthermore, her great grandfather John Fitch invented the steamboat. Josephine's own pursuits as an inventor began after she married a businessman named William Cochran. She and William often enjoyed welcoming many guests into their Illinois home for formal dinners. Josephine began to notice chips in her beloved collection of china. The process of hand washing the china was beginning to take its toll on her valuable dishes. Josephine felt sure that there had to be a way of washing the dishes without damaging them. So, with the help of a mechanic friend she went to work in her backyard shed to develop a better process for cleaning dishes.

Josephine Cochran envisioned a process that used jets of hot water and soap to clean the dishes as opposed to hand scrubbing them. After they were cleaned, the dishes would need to be rinsed with hot water. In addition, a rack would be necessary to hold the dishes in place so that they would be cleaned in a safe and thorough fashion. Another type of dishwashing machine was patented in 1850, but it was operated with a hand crank. Josephine Cochran's dishwashing machine had a motor operating it. While creating her dishwashing machine, Josephine suffered the loss of her husband William. Unfortunately, she was also left with some debts to pay. Despite these challenges, Josephine finished the design of her invention and had it patented in 1886. 

In 1893, Josephine Cochran impressed visitors at the Chicago World's Fair with her dishwashing machine. She also had the satisfaction of seeing her dishwashing machine used in the world of business. Hotels and restaurants found it to be an invaluable invention; however, the dishwasher wouldn't become a familiar item in homes until many years later. In the 1950s, the dishwasher became a must-have item in the kitchen of a modern home. Decades later, the dishwasher has become a common presence in practically every home's kitchen.

Josephine Cochran recognized the need for improvement in the process of washing dishes and then took action to come up with a better alternative. She believed in her invention and worked tenaciously for its success. Today, because of Josephine Cochran's persistence, the dishwasher not only saves people time and effort, but it cleans dishes with ease. 

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