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Household imageDid you ever wonder how many inventions were the result of an accident, how many great ideas were not even recognized by their inventor? As a people we have always had a love affair with technology. Just look at our homes, which are veritable showplaces of 20th-century advancements. An unpaid workforce composed almost entirely of women, faced an unimaginable lifetime of drudgery and backbreaking work. A long list of labor-saving appliances and household items changed all that and significantly altering the way we live.

The technologies that created the 20th century's laborsaving household devices owe a huge debt to electrification, which brought light and power into the home. Then two major engineering innovationsóresistance heating and small, efficient motorsóled to electric stoves and irons, vacuum cleaners, washers, dryers, and dishwashers. In the second half of the century advances in electronics yielded appliances that could be set on timers and even programmed, further reducing the domestic workload by allowing washing and cooking to go on without the presence of the human launderer or cook.