Josephine Cochrane

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Stamp of Romania, 2013

Josephine Garis Cochrane [1] (March 8, 1839, Ashtabula County, Ohio - August 3, 1913) made the first practical mechanical dishwasher in 1886, in Shelbyville, Illinois, although a washing machine device was patented in 1850 by Joel Houghton.

Biography[edit source[edit]

Early life[edit source][edit]

Josephine was the daughter of John Garis, a civil engineer and Irene Fitch Garis. She had one sister, Irene Garis Ransom.[1] She was a very determined girl coming from a long line of knowledgable people. Her grandfather, John Fitch, was the inventor of the steamboat, so it was no surprise she came up with such an idea. She was raised in Valparaiso, IN, where she went to private school in Indiana until the school burnt down.

Later in life, after she was settled down, she did not do any of the dishes herself because she had servants to do that for her. The bad thing about the servants is that she wanted a machine that could do the job faster without chipping any dishes. She also wanted to relieve tired housewives from duty of washing dishes after a meal. Once she heard about one of her dishes being chipped, she immediately was outraged and began planning something that could get around that. No one had invented such a machine so she built one herself.[2] She is said to have exclaimed, "If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I'll do it myself!"

Her friends were very impressed and had her make dishwashing machines for them, calling them the "Cochrane Dishwasher". This is what she began to call it, later leading to the name of her company Garis-Cochran Manufacturing Company.

Marriage and children[edit source][edit]

Josephine married a man, William Cochran, on October 13, 1858. William was a politician and merchant. They moved to Shelby County, IL.[3] Her husband died while she was at the age of 44, which led to her motivation of going through with developing the dishwasher. She kept William's last name but Josephine added the "e" after his death.

  • Hallie Cochran (birthdate – death) Hallie was the son of William and Josephine Cochran. He died at the age of two years old.
  • Katharine Cochran (birthdate – death) Katharine Cochran was the daughter of William and Josephine Cochran.[4]

Death and afterward[edit source][edit]

She died of a stroke or exhaustion, August 14, 1913. She passed away in Chicago, IL, and was buried in Graceland Cemetery in Shelbyville, IL.[5]

Cochrane's Dishwasher [edit source][edit]

She designed the first model in her shed behind her house. George Butters was a mechanic that assisted her in the construction of the first dishwasher and was an employee at the first dishwasher factory. First, she measured the dishes and built wire compartments, each specially designed to fit either plates, cups, or saucers. The compartments were placed inside a wheel that lay flat inside a copper boiler. A motor turned the wheel while hot soapy water squirted up from the bottom of the boiler and rained down on the dishes. Her dishwasher was the first to use water pressure instead of scrubbers to clean the dishes inside the machine.[6] She showed her invention at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and won the highest prize for "best mechanical construction, durability and adaptation to its line of work". The word was spread and soon after, Cochrane was getting orders for her dishwashing machine from restaurants and hotels in Illinois. She patented her design and went into production. She started her factory business in 1897, Garis-Cochran.

It wasn't until the 1950's where her dishwasher became a typical household island. This word got out and most households had the capabilities to hold one of these dishwashers by this time, so it was very common to see. These early dishwashers required a great amount of hot water, so houses had to be modified to this new technology with the proper house plumbing.[7]

Awards[edit source][edit]

"best mechanical construction, durability and adaption to its line of work." - World's Columbian Exposition in 1893

See also[edit source][edit]

List related internal (Wikipedia) articles in alphabetical order. Common nouns are listed first. Proper nouns follow.

Categories go here.


  1. ^ "NNBD tracking the entire world". Josephine Cochrane. Soylent Communications. 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "Inventing the Dishwasher". Parts Select. Eldis Group Partnership. 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  3. ^ John, Lienhard (1999). "Engines of our Enginuity". Inventing the Dishwasher. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "NNBD tracking the entire world". 
  5. ^ "Cook's Info". Cook's Info. 1998. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  6. ^ Johanna, Brenner. "Portland's Walk of the Heroines". Portland's Walk of the Heroines. Retrieved 4 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "Lemelson-MIT". Josephine Cochrane. Lemelson-MIT Program. Retrieved 5 April 2015.