Future on Ice

Defrosting the History of the Fridge

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1964  GE releases the first through-the-door ice dispenser at its national conference; actor Ronald Reagan is a guest speaker. Five years later the company markets the first combination ice cube and water dispenser.

1968  Westinghouse begins selling a line of fridges whose exterior is customizable with surface treatments like faux wood paneling.

1973  William Zimmerman of St. Louis gets a patent for the first refrigerator magnet.

1975  Many Americans move their older fridges to the garage. Now used primarily to store bulk items and giant packages of frozen leftovers, the “garage fridge” becomes the grungy workhorse of home appliances.

1976  Sears responds to the energy crisis with the Coldspot Power Miser. The new model is touted as requiring 40 percent less electricity than its competitors.

1982  Admiral refrigerators (today owned by Maytag) releases an automatic ice cream maker. To use it, simply remove the icemaker, slide in the ice cream maker, and be sure to peer in through the clear lid as your concoction freezes.

1984  GE debuts a refrigerator that makes a beeping noise if left open.

1985  Kenmore (formerly Sears brand) releases a popular fridge with a black lacquer finish. A Time magazine article calls the trend “Darth Vaderism.”

1993  The use of Freon is discontinued in refrigerators. It is replaced with tetrafluoroethane, a non-ozone-depleting gas.

1995  Sub-Zero challenges the idea of the fridge as one centralized appliance with the debut of the 700 series: multiple pullout cooler drawers that customers can place throughout a room, the ultimate in upscale custom kitchen design for the times.

1998  Frigidaire introduces the industry’s first built-in filtration system for the water and ice dispensers, called PureSource. Virtually all refrigerators today have filters.

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