Many people have the impression that the 1910s were the dark ages and that we, today, are so much more technically advanced. True, we have computers and they rule our world, but for the most part homes in 1910 had all the modern conveniences homes today do, simply in an earlier form.
Let’s take a look at what you might have expected to find in a modern home in 1910.
Electricity, Plumbing and Heating
Urban streets and homes began being electrified in the 1870s, not long after the invention of the incandescent lightbulb, but it wasn’t until power stations generating alternating current electricity opened in the 1890s that the technology became available to the masses.
During World War One, power generation was especially important because of wartime factory production.
Many rural areas remained without electric power until the 1930s.
Electricity led to many other inventions like refrigeration and air conditioning, which appeared in commercial use by 1903. It also led to many modern kitchen appliances like electric stoves, dishwashers and toasters.
Indoor plumbing was available in many homes by 1910. Not only did this make preparing meals easier, it also allowed for the invention of the flush toilet and for a convenient way to bathe or shower. The water heater, however, was invented after indoor plumbing, prompting the inventions a variety of devices devised to heat water while it was in the tub. Some of these devices were dangerous because they could cause burns or even explosions.
Homes also had central heating by 1910. By the turn of the century, many homes were heated with hot water running through radiators. Others were heated with a furnace.
Transportation and Communication
Transportation and communication were strikingly familiar in 1910.
The first practical cars were invented in the 1880s. There were even some cars that were electric powered. Not long after the invention of the automobile, women were behind the wheel making contributions to the industry.
Public transportation was in existence in larger urban areas. This included the omnibus, the trolley and the subway. These systems, powered by steam or electricity and later gasoline, were safer and faster than horse drawn forms of mass transit.
Bus running late and you need to tell your boss? For centuries, people facing this dilemma had no way of letting their workplace know. That all changed by the late 19th century. Millions of telephones were in use by the 1910s including international lines. Many of these phones had rotary dial. Telephone numbers were shorter than today, but you’re probably familiar with one of the early telephone providers – Bell.
The telephone allowed people to stay in communication with friends and family. It also allowed people to place orders, and it created new positions – telephone operators and receptionists – that were filled by women.
There are small ways, too, in which modern technology was present in Edwardian households. Here are three examples:
- Fancy some entertainment at night? People had been listening to records on their gramophones and phonographs for decades by 1910.
- The snap shot came with the introduction of Kodak’s Brownie camera. Now, taking photos was no longer a special occasion that required a trip to a photographer. The small camera combined with a faster shutter speed meant people could document their lives with film.
- How do you notify a homeowner that you’re visiting? The electric doorbell was commonplace in homes by the turn of the century.
Were you surprised to learn some of these technologies are that old? Leave a comment below.
Enjoyed reading this post? Join the mailing list and receive updates in your inbox whenever a new post is published. Simply enter your email address in the form on the bottom right of this page.
Latest posts by Melina Druga (see all)
- Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front - September 26, 2017
- The Committee on Public Information - August 28, 2017
- World War I Led to Prohibition - August 14, 2017