Brief History of Home Appliances and the Everyday Life

Industrialization dramatically and unevenly transformed world society, altering technological patterns and work processes of preindustrial ways of life. This socio-technological revolution changed how households dealt with food provision, clothing, cleaning and medical care. In a word, it affected the basic elements of human reproduction.

With the development of mass production at the turn of the twentieth century, many traditionally male tasks were abandoned, and others were left most in the hands of women and servants. Corporate industry began providing goods and services that households had previously self-produced. As the process of modern urbanization took place, many households started to purchase foodstuffs from grocery stores, health care from physicians and ready-made clothing from department stores.

At the same time municipalities developed a water system. Hence, homes were finally equipped with running water, water heaters and indoor bathrooms. Moreover, electricity substituted kerosene lamps, whilst other electric appliances were slowly appearing on the market (e.g. electric fans, sewing machines, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners). Telephone and automobiles were also appearing in a small number of families.

These developments consolidated and further expanded during the post-war economic growth. Indeed, after World War II, household technologies dramatically spread through all the social layers. The assembly-line production of home appliances was balanced by an increasing consumerist culture and people’s adequate purchasing power. It was the era of mass consumption of refrigerators, electric dishwashers, radio, TV and many other durable goods.

Finally, as of the 1970s, the technological evolution brought the use of computers and micro-chips. This determined the massive and fast expansion of consumer electronics. At the turn of the Twenty first century, new products such as microwave ovens, compact-disc players, Mp3 players and personal computers, keep altering household everyday life. More importantly, the attention of producers is increasingly focused on the environmental impact of new technology. Indeed, the new frontier of technology should be capable to progressively address its consequent effects on human reproduction in relation to the biosphere.