Automatic machines


Bendix Home Appliances, a subsidiary of Avco, introduced the first domestic automatic washing machine in 1937, having applied for a patent in the same year. Avco had licensed the name from Bendix Corporation, an otherwise unrelated company. In appearance and mechanical detail, this first machine was not unlike the front loading automatic washers produced today. Although it included many of today's basic features, the machine lacked any drum suspension and therefore had to be anchored to the floor to prevent "walking". Because of the components required, the machine was also very expensive. For instance, the Bendix Home Laundry Service Manual (published November 1, 1946) shows that the drum speed change was facilitated by a 2-speed gearbox built to a heavy duty standard (not unlike a car automatic gearbox, albeit at a smaller size). The timer was also probably fairly costly, because miniature electric motors were expensive to produce.
Early automatic washing machines were usually connected to a water supply via temporary slip-on connectors to sink taps. Later, permanent connections to both the hot and cold water supplies became the norm, as dedicated laundry water hookups became common. Most modern front-loading European machines now only have a cold water connection (called "cold fill") and rely completely on internal electric heaters to raise the water temperature.
Many of the early automatic machines had coin-in-the-slot facilities and were installed in the basement laundry rooms of apartment houses.