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Profile America — Sunday, October 26th. Doing laundry was a wearying, time-consuming chore for many centuries. The industrial revolution and American inventiveness attacked the ancient chore on this date in 1858, when Hamilton Smith patented a rotary washing machine. But it was hand-driven and proved to be hard on both the operator and clothes. People continued to use the tub and washboard, even after the first electric washer came along in 1908. A few years later, the agitator-type machine appeared and gained immediate popularity. Finally, in the late 1930s, the fully automatic washer with a spin cycle went on sale. Today, over 85 percent of the nation's nearly 119 million households have a washing machine. You can find more facts about America's people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at <www.census.gov>.
Kane's Famous First Facts, 4270
Development of washing machines: http://inventors.about.com/od/wstartinventions/a/washingmachines.htm
First fully automatic machine: http://esporta.ca/evolution-of-washing-technology/
Household data: http://www.census.gov/hhes/well-being/publications/extended-11.html