The first hairdryer, invented in 1920s Germany, combined the technology of an electric heater with that of a vacuum cleaner. The original design was first produced under the Halliwell brand and was large, made of metal and very bulky. Hairdryers were actually the first piece of household equipment to benefit from the wide use of plastics. But the 1950s brought other changes as the new hairstyles of the decade required revisions in the design and function of the hairdryer.
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During the first part of the 1950s, women wore their hair in curls. The easiest way to get these curls for those women with straight hair was to either go to a beauty salon and get a permanent curl set in -- now just called a "perm" -- or to sleep in hair rollers. General Electric built a bonnet model hairdryer that looked like a shower cap with a hose attached to it. This allowed warm air to circulate through the bonnet, thus allowing the curlers to work in half the time. The bonnet dryer also left the hands free to apply make-up or do other tasks.
Technology Advances in 1950s Hairdryers
Hood hairdryers, like the ones used in salons, first appeared in the 1950s. For home use, the hairdryers of the 1950s were much more appealing than their earlier counterparts because of developments in the motor's technology. Silent-running induction motors were much more popular than the bulky and noisy brush motors from previous models. The GEC hair dryer from 1954 really changed the face of future dryers because it housed the motor inside the fan so it was invisible from the outside. Because of this, the body could become more compact.
Portable Case Hairdryers
Soon the cap blow-dryers were seen as too bulky for everyday use and the hairstyles changed, so women wanted larger, fuller hair. The answer was a portable hairdryer. This portable hairdryer could be plugged in to any outlet and used as a hand-held device. Once the drying was done, the hairdryer would be hidden underneath the sink or in a drawer. Bonnet-style hairdryers also began to come in cases, like the Westinghouse and General Electric Portable Bonnet-style Hairdryer, which both came with a hood, hose and carrying case so women could pack it all up in the case after each use.
The Pifco Princess Ensemble Model came out in 1958 and was one of the first hairdryers to resemble modern dryers. Early versions came with a hood and hose hookup and also with a styling comb, similar to the attachments that come with a hairdryer today. Later models had a silent motor, a huge improvement over the loud blowing of the hooded dryers from earlier in the decade. The model came in blue, pink and cream. The Morphy-Richards model H1 hairdryer came with a stand so women could use it hands-free.
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