Josephine Cochrane

Josephine Cochrane

Inventor of the dishwasher
Date of Birth: 08.03.1839
Country: USA

Biography of Josephine Cochrane

Josephine Cochrane, also known as Josephina Cochrane, was born in 1839 in Ashtabula County, Ohio. She came from a family with a strong engineering background, as she was the great-granddaughter of John Fitch, the inventor of the steamboat. Growing up, Cochrane was surrounded by discussions about inventions and machinery, but she did not have to worry about financial matters due to her family's wealth.

Josephine Cochrane

Cochrane led a privileged life, enjoying social activities and entertainment. However, she became increasingly frustrated with the constant breakage of her dishes, particularly her favorite Chinese dinnerware. Determined to find a solution, she famously declared, "If nobody is going to invent a dishwasher, then I'll do it myself!" Cochrane set out to create her own dishwashing machine, which eventually led to her groundbreaking invention.

After the sudden death of her husband, Cochrane realized she needed to support herself. She saw the potential in her invention and decided to focus on its development. Cochrane's early prototypes consisted of a wooden tub with a metal axle in the center. The axle held a special mesh basket for the dishes, while a steam engine provided the necessary heat and rotation. Through numerous experiments, Cochrane was satisfied with the machine's ability to clean dishes thoroughly and keep them intact.

In 1885, Cochrane patented her invention, officially known as the "Dish-Washing Machine," at the Illinois branch of the United States Patent Office. In her patent application, Cochrane claimed that her machine's high temperature would dry the dishes, eliminating the need for manual drying. However, some reports suggested that the dishes remained wet after the washing cycle. Despite this minor flaw, Cochrane's invention gained recognition and received a warm reception at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, where she won an award for her innovation.

Cochrane began selling her dishwashers under the brand name "Cochrane Dishwasher." Initially, the machines were primarily targeted towards restaurants, hotels, and cafes. While sales were initially strong, some individuals found the cost of the appliance prohibitive. Many male breadwinners failed to see the value in purchasing a dishwasher when they already paid maids to wash their dishes. There were also complaints about residual soap and excessive hot water consumption.

Later in her career, Cochrane founded the "Garis-Cochran Manufacturing Company," which later merged with "KitchenAid" and eventually became part of "Whirlpool." Over time, Cochrane's dishwashers underwent improvements, solidifying her legacy as an inventor and an icon of the feminist movement.

Josephine Cochrane passed away at the age of 74 on August 3, 1913. Reflecting on her life, she once said, "If I had known everything I know now, I would never have had the courage to begin." Cochrane's invention revolutionized the way people approached dishwashing and continues to be an essential household appliance to this day.