Thursday , 17 August 2017
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Evolution of Flush Toilet

The Internet? Smartphones? Television? Computer?The engine? All these things are very important ,but they pale in significance next to arguably the most important and great invention of all time – the Flush Toilet.

World’s earliest known system of flush toilets: Archaeological research proved that toilets flushed by water have existed since about 2500 B.C. The ancient  Indus Valley Civilization of Northwest South Asia, including Pakistan and parts of India was prominent for many water supply and sanitation devices that were the first of their kind.The flush toilets existed in many homes, and were connected to a common sewerage pipe.

Have a look at these slides which clearly describe the Indus Valley Civilization with relevant images.


Each house had a toilet with a seat, the waste being borne away by water in a sewer system covered with dry clay bricks.This system was used in India for most of the existence of the Indus Valley Civilization,which existed from about 3000 to 1700 B.C.

The ancient Romans were so fastidious that they constructed a toilet for use when they were traveling.Their sewerage systems were sophisticated and public toilets  were common.They built simple outhouses or latrines directly over the running waters of the sewers.

Ancient roman latrines - evolution of flush toilets
Ancient roman latrines – Credit:Posted originally in Wikipedia by Fubar Obfusco

Inventor of flush toilet: The toilet saw some major innovations during the second half of the last millennium.Sir John Harrington (4 August 1561 – 20 November 1612), of Kelston, was a courtier, author and master of art, popularly known as the inventor of the flush toilet which was called as Ajax then. He was a prominent member of Queen Elizabeth I’s court, and was known as her “saucy Godson.”

Sir John Harington - evolution of flush toilet
Portrait of Sir John Harrington;Attributed to Hieronymus Custodis ;Photographic reproduction by Sotheby’s

He had invented the water closet in 1596, but his invention was not widely adopted.The new developments in toilet technology in late 1700s were influenced by Harrington’s ideas and focused on further refinements. Joseph Bramah’s toilet was a commercial success and was installed in many ships and it is shown in the picture below.

 

Joseph Bramah toilet - evolution of flush toilet
Joseph Bramah toilet – Illustration by David G. Eveleigh; Bogs, Baths and Basins: The Story of Domestic Sanitation. Image source: newint.org

The first all-ceramic toilet appeared in 1885,designed by England manufacturer Thomas Twyford. It incorporated in one piece the earlier innovation of the water trap, consisting of water held within a U-shaped bend in the outflow pipe that insulated the user from malodorous air in the sewage system below.In 1910, toilet designs started changing away from the elevated water tank into the modern toilet with a close tank and bowl.

The toilets are still evolving and are coming with options like wireless control panels and LCD displays etc..,The Japanese Company TOTO introduced the Washlet in 1980, which sprays warm water to automatically clean the anal/urethral area instead of relying on toilet paper.

Next generation washlets in addition to the features available in older washlets –  like the warm water spray for intimate cleansing, heated seat, dryer and odour-absorbing deodoriser, they offer many features like sensor-activated toilet seat,cleansing with electrolysed water,UV light to accelerate the decomposition of organic substances making it practically impossible for bacteria, dirt, limescale and mould to accumulate in the toilet bowl.

TOTO washlet- evolution of flush toilet
Next generation Washlet – for
unparalleled comfort and hygiene from TOTO -For more details visit http://www.toto.co.jp/en/press/ISH/index.htm