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In past columns, we’ve looked at inventions that help around the house, like the vacuum cleaner and the electric washing machine. Following that trend, this month we look at the hand-held hair dryer.
Before hair dryers, people airdried their hair. Women had longer hair and women’s hairstyles took a long time to create. “Doing your hair” was a tax on women’s time, and Western women wanted a quicker way to dry their hair. Many women stuck a hose into the back of a vacuum cleaner to blow their hair dry. However, the air wasn’t hot. In 1888, Frenchman Alexandre-Ferdinand Godefroy invented the first hair dryer. It used heated air, but it was very big and didn’t have a fan to blow the air out.
Enter Gabriel Kazanjian, an Armenian American inventor. His hair dryer blew out hot air, but was too heavy to hold. It was patented in 1911.
The first hand-held dryers appeared in the 1920s. These heavy devices were made of metal, but brought the salon to the home. At the time, bobs were the fashion, and hair dryers made it easy to create bobs on your own.
Over the years, the basic shape and function of the hand-held blow-dryer hasn’t changed much. The 21st-century version is lighter, with a plastic case instead of metal. It’s more powerful, and can blow-dry hair much more quickly.
It’s also much safer. Early blow-dryers could kill you if you dropped them into a bathtub or got them wet. Beginning from the 1970s, though, many have had safety devices inside to cut the risk of electrocution. (T)
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.