Oh, Josephine Cochrane, you were a goddess among men. In 1887, the wealthy Illinois socialite wanted a better way to protect her china while it was being washed by her servants. The wire compartments of her dishwasher, each specifically designed to fit plates, cups or saucers, were placed inside a wheel in a copper boiler. A motor turned the wheel, and hot soapy water spouted from the boiler, raining down on the dishes. By the 1890s, Cochrane was receiving orders for her invention from restaurants and hotels in Illinois.

Dishwasher is found in...