Thor washing machine

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1920 advertisement for the Thor electric washing machine. The Saturday evening post (1920) (14804309363).jpg
1920 advertisement for the Thor electric washing machine.

The Thor washing machine was the first electric clothes washer sold commercially in the United States. Produced by the Chicago-based Hurley Electric Laundry Equipment Company, the 1907 Thor is believed to be the first electrically powered washer ever manufactured, crediting Hurley as the inventor of the first automatic washing machine. Designed by Hurley engineer Alva J. Fisher, a patent for the new electric Thor was issued on August 9, 1910, three years after its initial invention. [1]

Washing machine Machine that washes clothes automatically

A washing machine is a home appliance used to wash laundry. The term is mostly applied to machines that use water as opposed to dry cleaning or ultrasonic cleaners. The user adds laundry detergent, which is sold in liquid or powder form, to the wash water.


The idea of an automatic washing machine had been around for many years but these were crude mechanical efforts that typically involved a manually operated crank or similar design. [2] In many ways, the patent of the new Thor washer sounds modern, even today. The patent states that a "perforated cylinder is rotatably mounted within the tub containing the wash water". A series of blades lifted the clothes as the cylinder rotated. After 8 rotations in one direction, the machine would reverse rotation to "prevent the cloths from wadding up into a compact mass". [3] Drive belts attached to a Westinghouse motor connected to three wheels of different sizes, which moved the drum during operation. The design also included a clutch, which allowed the machine to switch direction, and an emergency stop rod. The new Thor washer was mass marketed throughout the United States beginning in 1908. [2]

Crank (mechanism) simple machine

A crank is an arm attached at a right angle to a rotating shaft by which reciprocating motion is imparted to or received from the shaft. It is used to convert circular motion into reciprocating motion, or vice versa. The arm may be a bent portion of the shaft, or a separate arm or disk attached to it. Attached to the end of the crank by a pivot is a rod, usually called a connecting rod (conrod). The end of the rod attached to the crank moves in a circular motion, while the other end is usually constrained to move in a linear sliding motion.

Clutch machine element allowing to switch on or off the transmission of mechanical power between two shafts in a vehicle or another machine

A clutch is a mechanical device which engages and disengages power transmission especially from driving shaft to driven shaft.

Mass marketing is a market strategy in which a firm decides to ignore market segment differences and appeal the whole market with one offer or one strategy, which supports the idea of broadcasting a message that will reach the largest number of people possible. Traditionally mass marketing has focused on radio, television and newspapers as the media used to reach this broad audience. By reaching the largest audience possible, exposure to the product is maximized, and in theory this would directly correlate with a larger number of sales or buys into the product.


Penngrove Museum, CA Thor Washing Machine (6602612223).jpg
Penngrove Museum, CA

There is dispute over who was the first inventor of the automatic washer. A company called Nineteen Hundred Washing Machine Company of Binghamton, NY claims to have produced the first electric washer in 1906; a year before Thor's release. [4] Additionally, it has been stated in various articles on the Internet that a Ford Motor Company employee invented the electric washer in late 19th century or early 20th century. Since Ford was incorporated in 1903, it seems unlikely that the Ford story is valid. Regardless, Thor remains one of the first (if not the first) company to manufacture and sell an automatic washing machine on a large scale.[ citation needed ]

Binghamton, New York City in New York, United States

Binghamton is a city in, and the county seat of, Broome County, New York, United States. It lies in the state's Southern Tier region near the Pennsylvania border, in a bowl-shaped valley at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers. Binghamton is the principal city and cultural center of the Binghamton metropolitan area, home to a quarter million people. The population of the city itself, according to the 2010 census, is 47,376.

Ford Motor Company American automobile manufacturer

Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker that has its main headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. It was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. The company sells automobiles and commercial vehicles under the Ford brand and most luxury cars under the Lincoln brand. Ford also owns Brazilian SUV manufacturer Troller, an 8% stake in Aston Martin of the United Kingdom and a 32% stake in Jiangling Motors. It also has joint-ventures in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Russia. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is controlled by the Ford family; they have minority ownership but the majority of the voting power.

Other Thor innovations

Tilt-a-whirl agitator

Thor invented the tilt-a-whirl system in which the agitator, typically in the shape of disk, tilted back and forth within the washer drum while simultaneously rotating. The early 1930s tilt-a-whirl design was the first agitator to move water in both a horizontal and vertical motion. The 1936 version of the Thor tilt-a-whirl incorporated sculpted hands embossed on the agitator. At the time, some Thor dealers painted the fingernails of the hands on demonstration machines. [2]

An agitator is a device or mechanism to put something into motion by shaking or stirring. There are several types of agitation machines, including washing machine agitators and magnetic agitators. Agitators can come in many sizes and varieties, depending on the application.

Drum (container) type of container

A drum is a cylindrical container used for shipping bulk cargo. Drums can be made of steel, dense paperboard, or plastics, and are generally used for the transportation and storage of liquids and powders. Drums are often certified for shipment of dangerous goods. Shipped goods must be matched with the make of drum necessary to comply with applicable regulations. Drums are also called barrels in common usage.

Automagic washer/dishwasher

In the 1940s, Thor introduced the Automagic hybrid washer/dishwasher. The top-loading machine included both a removable clothes washing drum and a dish-washing drum. The Automagic was widely marketed but disappeared from the marketplace soon after its introduction, as many consumers soured on the idea of washing dirty clothing and dishes in the same machine. [5]

Dishwasher mechanical device for cleaning dishware and cutlery

A dishwasher is a machine for cleaning dishware and cutlery automatically. Unlike manual dishwashing, which relies largely on physical scrubbing to remove soiling, the mechanical dishwasher cleans by spraying hot water, typically between 45 and 75 °C, at the dishes, with lower temperatures used for delicate items.

Thor today

The Thor trademark was acquired in 2008 by Los Angeles–based Appliances International, a supplier of washer dryer combos and stacking washers and dryers. Soon after the brand acquisition, the company introduced a new line of laundry appliances under the Thor brand.

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Mangle (machine) mechanical laundry aid

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Speed Queen American laundry machine manufacturer

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Dispensing ball

The dispensing ball is a special plastic ball used to dispense liquid fabric softener in clothes washing machines that lack built-in softener dispensers. Liquid fabric softener has to be added at the correct time to a load of laundry in order to work effectively. In top-loading machines, the ball accomplishes this with no user input, other than the initial loading, and filling of the ball.


A combo washer dryer is a combination in a single cabinet of a washing machine and a clothes dryer. It should not be confused with a "stackable" combination of a separate washing machine and a separate clothes dryer.

Stone washing similar technique used on apparel

Stone washing is a textile manufacturing process used to give a newly manufactured cloth garment a worn-in appearance. Stone-washing also helps to increase the softness and flexibility of otherwise stiff and rigid fabrics such as canvas and denim.

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Ironing is the use of a machine, usually a heated tool, to remove wrinkles from fabric. The heating is commonly done to a temperature of 180–220 °Celsius, depending on the fabric. Ironing works by loosening the bonds between the long-chain polymer molecules in the fibers of the material. While the molecules are hot, the fibers are straightened by the weight of the iron, and they hold their new shape as they cool. Some fabrics, such as cotton, require the addition of water to loosen the intermolecular bonds. Many modern fabrics are advertised as needing little or no ironing. Permanent press clothing was developed to reduce the ironing necessary by combining wrinkle-resistant polyester with cotton.

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