Motors, Electric

One of the principal trends underlying the development of many domestic appliances throughout the twentieth century has been the application of instant energy, which has improved their performance. For many appliances, this energy source has been electricity. The first essential factor in this development was the slow but steady spread of an efficient and cost-effective electricity supply in Europe, Canada, and the United States beginning in the 1880s. The second key factor was the development of a small and efficient electric motor.

The first electric motor was built by the Englishman Michael Faraday in 1831 and consisted of a copper disk rotating between the poles of a powerful magnet. Faraday did not exploit his discovery industrially. Further work was carried out by Faraday’s fellow countryman James Clerk Maxwell, but the first real commercial model was developed by the Croatian-born, U.S.-based Nicola Tesla in 1889. Working with the Westinghouse Company his 1/6 horsepower motor was used to drive a three-bladed domestic