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Household Helps

1. What device replaced the drudgery of carpet beating, dusters, and brooms, but required two operators?

2. The American Civil War gave a tremendous boost to this new machine that produced tens of thousands of new uniforms, fast. What created a ready-made clothing revolution?

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3. What 'flashy' invention was originally an electric flowerpot?

4. What 18th-century item skewered bread over a fire?

5. What inexpensive ersatz 'tapestry' was developed shortly after the rise of paper mills in Europe?

6. Tossing laundry in a cloth bag, then tossing the bag overboard and dragging it through the water was the precursor to ... what?

7. The first book's striking surface was on the inside cover, thereby courting conflagration. Now it's outside. What book was this?


1. The original vacuum cleaner was the size of a modern refrigerator and was pulled from house to house on a dolly. One of its first assignments was to clean the blue carpet of Westminster Abbey for the 1901 coronation of Edward VII.

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2. The sewing machine. This invention also gave impetus to creating standardized sizes for the first time.

3. The flashlight. The idea came from a slender tube that rose up through a flowerpot to illuminate a plant. That novelty was not a big seller. Fortunately, another inventor saw the potential. He lengthened the cylinder and created 'a portable electric light.'

4. The toaster. Early this century, the first electric toaster required that individual slices of bread be watched and flipped manually. In 1926, with springs and a timer, the toaster became a pop-up, advertised 'without watching, turning, or burning!'

5. Wallpaper. Buyers in the 15th century found the thick decorative paper less expensive than woven tapestries and as good an insulator against the cold.

6. The washing machine. The original washers were not as 'automatic' as touted. Users filled and drained them with buckets. Clothes were removed soaking wet, and the 'cycle' was complete when the user pulled the plug.

7. A matchbook. Three years after the Diamond Match Co. bought the patent they moved the striking surface to the outside cover.

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