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Appliances History Learning Center

Obey the Cook

Kitchens have been the “heart of the home” for centuries, even when there was no closed off area in the little clay huts built by some of our ancestors. The art of cooking with heat goes back to the time of cavemen, when they used open flame. The first stoves were clay or stone structures that sat over open fires. The food was placed on a smooth top and the food was cooked within the heat chamber. They regulated temperatures by controlling the size of the fire.


Iron stoves were the first ranges to be used inside of home and gained popularity around the mid 1700s.The modern range was invented by Benjamin Thompson or Rumford as he used science to develop the idea of chimneys and furnaces. Thompson and his workers altered fireplaces by placing bricks on the floor of the fireplace in order for the walls to be angled while increasing the upward air flow of the smoke. He then designed a range made of brick with an oven and holes at the top for placement of pots.

Major mile stones emerged when gas stoves were developed in the 1820’s but were not as common because not everyone of this time was able to have this type of technology in their homes. James Sharp was first to patent a gas stove in England. Electric stoves did not catch on as fast as gas stoves because of the lack of development in homes at the time. The first design was patented by David Curle Smith in 1905.


In the early 1930’s manufacturers found a way to hide working parts behind the body using a metal sheet. They also added legs and a clean cut design to sit perfectly with counter tops or against walls. The trend expanded post-war time and came equipped with timers and other controls into what we know of the range today.

Ranges of our time are much more innovative and able to tackle different cooking tasks. No matter the setup of your kitchen, there is a range for you. Start with considering what type of range your home is equipped to handle (gas or electric), what type of meals you usually chef up and how many mouths do you have to feed. The style of range varies as well, so comparing the benefits of each type would be the best way to choose what will work best for you and your family.