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Maytag Appliances - The Early Years. Maytag Appliances Meant Something Totally Different in 1893

Maytag has changed a lot as a company since it was first founded in 1893 -- as a farm equipment company.

Founder Frederick Louis Maytag

Frederick Louis Maytag came to Iowa as a young farm boy in a covered wagon.  He grew up on the farm and as an adult in 1893 he, his two brothers-in-laws and George W. Parsons each contributed $600 to start a farm implement company. With a war chest of $2,400 the company started making farm equipment such as threshing machine, band-cutter and an innovative self-feeder attachment for the threshing machines, invented by one of the founders of the company.  This self-feed attachment was unique for its time because it was one of the first machines designed to make farming safer rather than easier.  Farming was very dangerous in those days -- particularly the thrashing machines -- and this attachment was a great success.  The money from this invention helped the new company to survive its struggling early years.

By 1902, the company was the largest feeder manufacturer in the world.

In in 1905, Maytag introduced the Success Corn Husker and Shredder, expanding its farm implement line.  Hay presses, hog waters (no, I don't know either) and numerous specialized feeders and harvesting equipment appeared between 1907 and 1911.

Surprisingly Maytag produced an automobile, the "Maytag-Mason Automobile", for a short time in the early 1900's. As late as 1916, Maytag Company briefly produced farm tractors.

Maytag Expands into Home Appliances

Fred Louis Maytag first started selling high quality appliances in 1907.  

It was first thought that these products would merely ease the seasonal slumps in the farm equipment business.  

The first Maytag washer was the 1907 "Pastime" washer.  These earliest Maytag washer parts included a wooden tub with a hand crank that turned an dolly inside with wooden pegs, which in turn, pulled clothes through the water and against the corrugated tub sides.

Improvements on the first washing machine were steady an in 1911 a model with an electric motor was unveiled with a pulley mechanism that allowed the machine to be operated from an outside power source.  It was also designed to be turned from the "outside power source" of your arm if you had no electricity, as was the case with many houses of the time.

To help ease this problem further, four years later Maytag unveiled its Multi-Motor gasoline engine washer.  This was specifically designed for the rural homemakers who did not have access to electric power and was very popular.  The Maytag Parts for these are much valued by collectors today.

Maytag Becomes the World's Largest Washer Manufacturer

In 1919 Maytag engineers succeeded in casting the first all aluminum washer tub.  Many in the trade had been talking about this for years and it had become known as the "The washer that could not be built" because of the difficulties in shaping that large an aluminum piece.  Up to this time washer tubs were make of wooden slats.  

Expansion into a national company and world leader soon followed and in the 1920's under L. B. Maytag, son of the founder, who served as company president between 1920 and 1926, a new type of washer was conceived that replaced the dolly under the lid with an agitator in the bottom of the tub.  This basic design has stood the test of time and is the one still used primarily today.

Maytag first introduced this type washer in 1922, and it was a great success. The new washer design put Maytag exclusively into the washer business, prompted the end of farm equipment manufacturing and propelled the company to the dominant position in the young laundry appliance industry.

By 1927 the company had produced its first million washers.

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