All men know the porcelain throne is the time-tested place for a man to do some serious thinking. But who came up with the invention of indoor plumbing? In this installment of Manly Inventions, we are going to examine that one member of all our households that takes the most crap, literally.
Now, the modern toilet has seen many modifications over the years. Probably the most famous toilet inventor in pop culture is Thomas Crapper (not making this up). What Mr. Crapper designed is called a “floating ballcock” (Ha!). The ballcock is the mechanical device that is used to fill your toilet with water. Crapper has received the accolades of creating the indoor toilet, but that is actually false. Crapper, while being notable for making the toilet popular because of his invention, did not contribute much to the toilet’s actual design.
The first toilet was designed well before Crapper by a man named John Harrington in 1596. Considering one major, unpopular attribute of his design, the widespread and practical home use of Harrington’s invention was pretty limited. It was considered more of a novelty item because of the “splash back”. Now, this kind of splash back is not the same kind of splash back fun you might have in the pool with your friends. This kind of splash back was not fun at all. It would make your whole house, and possibly you, stink. Get ready, set, flush, jump out of the way! To solve this problem, Alex Cummings came along and designed the “S” shape piping to prevent the splash back – thus eliminating (most) of the stink in your own house after your post-Hooters wing domination. This “S” design is still used in toilets today.
Toilets themselves didn’t actually become an everyday household feature till the early part of the 20th century. Believe it or not, the amount of actual engineering that went into everyone’s personal, mid-morning or mid-afternoon library chair has crossed hundreds of years. So the next time your sit down for the post-cheese bowl time-out, raise your coffee mug and waive your newspaper to the centuries of inventors that made it their life’s work to help make all of our lives a little less shitty.