If your clothes dryer has ever broken down, leaving you with the two sorry options of either driving to the laundromat with soaking wet clothes or hanging your clothes out to dry in the middle of winter, you’ve probably wondered who invented the clothes dryer. The clothes dryer, one of the true marvels of convenience, slowly developed into its current form over the last 200 years.
In 1799 a Frenchman known as Pochon invented the ventilator, a precursor to the modern tumble dryer. This early clothes dryer was a rotating metal drum with holes bored into it. Wet clothes were placed inside the drum which was then positioned over an open fire and cranked by hand.
On June 7, 1892 an African American named George T. Sampson received a patent for a device similar to Pochon’s ventilator. Sampson’s invention used the heat from a stove rather than an open fire.
1915 saw the invention of the first electric clothes dryer, which was similar to those invented by Pochon and Sampson, but it could also sense when the clothes were dry. In 1935 a North Dakota man trying to protect his mother from having to hang clothes outside in the dangerous winters constructed an oil-heated drum in an outside shed, thereby inventing the first version of the modern clothes dryer. He patented his invention to run on either gas or electrity, but he saw very little financial gain, as money troubles forced him to sell the patent to the Hamilton Manufacturing Company in 1936. The Huebsch Manufacturing Company, which had patented an open air dryer in 1931, introduced the stacked dryer to the market place in 1941 and continued their run in 1954 when they introduced a coin-operated dryer for laundromats. The American Dryer Corporation got into the game in 1965 with two different coin-operated models designed for laundromats. Fourteen years later they introduced the first computerized dryers.
The 1990s saw the arrival of environmentally friendly and allergy reducing dryers. Equipped with sensors rather than timers, the dryers were designed to turn off the moment the clothes were dry, to save energy. They were also equipped with HEPA/ULPA filters to reduce airborne particles.
Into the Future
The environmental movement has brought things full circle. These days many people are opting to dry their clothes outside again, using only the energy of the sun.