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Back in 1955 the average price for a clothes dryer was 230 dollars, which translates to around 1,600 dollars today. That's why only around ten percent of households actually owned one then; now the average cost of a dryer is around 300 dollars.
The clothes dryer was actually made in England in the late 18th century. These machines were actually called "ventilators" back in the day. These units were huge drums made of metal and had small holes for ventilation, they would be powered by a hand crank and used over a fire. This created a strong smell of smoke on the clothes, and the clothing would be covered with soot and they would catch fire quite often. In 1892 George Sampson came up with a better type of dryer which had a rack and it used heat from a stove.
The first electric dryer was invented by J. Ross Moore. He built a shed, installed a stove, and hung the clothes inside the shed to dry. Over a span of thirty years, Moore created his idea for an automatic dryer. He built a drum style model that worked. He created both an electric and gas model, but the problem was he needed a manufacturer to produce them due to financial struggles. He finally made a deal with the Hamilton Manufacturing Company after quite a few rejections. This new automatic clothes dryer was named "June Day", and was put on the market for sale in 1938.
During the 1940's the dryer grew in popularity. After World War II, Hamilton Manufacturing Company was selling over 60,000 dryers annually. Whirlpool started marketing a gas dryer in 1955, claiming that it cut the drying time in half compared to normal speed dryers because of the increased gas output and increased air flow.
There were many improvements made to this early model of dryers which started in 1946 with the moving of the controls to the front of the dryer. A timer, an exhaust for moist air, temperature controls, and a cool down cycle were added. In 1959 dryness sensors were first installed to shut the power off once a load of laundry was dry. In 1965 they added a permanent press cycle, and in 1972 they added electric start controls to gas dryers. In 1983 delayed start timers were added, and in 1985 dryers were offered with Spanish instructions, manuals, and consoles. Dryers today are still being improved upon, we now have many different options for drying our clothes, and some interfaces are now completely electronic.
In summary, I hope this article helped you learn a little bit more about the history of the clothes dryer.