Npower reveals Brits baffled about history of household items

A survey released by npower shows that Brits are baffled when it comes to the history of technology, with the average guess 36 years out.

npower research showed that while many believe these life-changing gadgets came into existence in the last 50 or 60 years, many are actually more than a century old.

Take the dishwasher for example. Invented in the 1890s by Josephine Cochran, the dishwasher is a Victorian invention and has been around for more than 120 years. Yet Brits believe it was actually invented in the 1970s, more than 80 years out.

Another big misconception was central heating, which was invented in in 1889 by Edwin Rudd, but is believed to be a 1950s invention by 16% of the British public. Similarly, just 4% knew that the telephone was invented in the 1870s and just 8% identified the vacuum cleaner as an invention of the 1900s.

The research was commissioned by npower to support an online energy archive on called ‘Remember How We Used To’, which invites the public to view and share pictures of appliances through the decades.

TV’s Tony Robinson, who is working with npower to promote the online energy archive on, commented: “We see new appliances being invented all the time and so we tend to think ourselves as the generation which has paved the way for future technology. However, a lot of new gadgets today are built on the legacy of what has come before, and it is actually the inventors of the late 1800s and early 1900s that have shaped the technological world we live in today.”

Using research compiled by Warwick Business School, npower’s online archive on Historypin also hosts an interactive timeline detailing the introduction of gadgets, from washing machines to games consoles, which have changed our lives over the years.

Tony Robinson added: “For the majority of us, inventions such as the television, vacuum cleaner and microwave occurred before our lifetime and so we find it hard to place these in a certain decade.

“However, by using npower’s inventions timeline, we can plot the introduction of new technology over the last 100 years and also see the subsequent effect it had on lives by browsing through the photos in the archive.

“Technology has developed at an astonishing pace, from the first telephone in the 19th century to the multi-faceted smart phones today, and so looking back at the roots of our mod-cons helps us to really appreciate what we take for granted in modern day life.”

npower’s online energy archive ‘Remember How We Used To…’ can be found at Whether it’s a picture of the family’s first washing machine, or children avidly playing on a games console in the 1980s, npower is encouraging the general public to share their memories, pictures and videos on the online montage.

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