February is Black History Month. Appliances Connection will be examining the contributions of black individuals who had an impact on the appliance industry. In this installment, we'll be taking a look at George T Sampson, developer of America's first automatic clothes dryer.
Ambiguous Early Life
Not much is known about Sampson's personal life such as his childhood and education. Even his date and place of birth is in dispute. When we first see Sampson in the public eye in 1885, he was living in Dayton, Ohio and he had invented and patented a sled propeller. It was a pedal-powered apparatus that eased travel through snow.
Subsequently, in 1892, George T Sampson developed and patented America's first automatic clothes dryer. Like many other entrepreneurs, Sampson did not invent the item that made his reputation. Automatic dryers of sorts had been used for the better part of the 19th Century. It usually was some method of speeding the drying over an open flame. People complained that this made their clothes smell of smoke and stained them with soot. Sampson refined the process with a series of suspension rods over a specially designed stove. With this new development those doing laundry could have a happy medium of drying their clothes quicker no matter the weather and without having to worry about setting garments on fire. This design was used until the growth in use of gas and electric dryers in the late 1930s and early 1940s