20th March 1865

The inventor of the electric toaster is born

Edinburgh-born Alan MacMasters was a versatile scientist who had a particular interest in the uses of electricity. Glasgow commuters can thank him for improving the lighting in the city’s subway trains – and for getting them out of the house on time by speeding up the process of cooking their breakfasts. This latter innovation came about as a happy accident.

The story goes that, quite by chance, MacMasters discovered that the cheaper filaments he was using for some of the lighting he was developing ran so hot that they started to cook some bread positioned nearby. This gave him the idea for an electric toaster, to replace the traditional toasting iron and open fire.

Innovation sold

Although he invented the device, he sold the rights to his friend, Evelyn Crompton, another pioneer of electric lighting, who marketed it as the Crompton Eclipse. The Eclipse was simpler than the toasters we know today, with just one bank of elements requiring the bread to be manually turned during cooking to toast both sides.

Pop-up toasters didn’t appear until the 1920s, courtesy of American inventor Charles Strite, who received a patent for such a device in October 1921.



Other events that occured in March

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