The Amazing History of 3 Rooms We Take for Granted

From the everyday bathroom to the walk-in freezer and sterile cleanrooms, there’s more to all of these rooms than meets the eye.


Cleanrooms are a special environment free of dust, particles, or organisms. We need cleanrooms for manufacturing life-saving drugs, constructing the incredibly small microprocessors that all our electronics rely on, and to keep certain places, like hospital surgical theaters, perfectly sterile.

We’ve known we needed cleanrooms for a very long time, but only recently has cleanroom construction had the technology to make genuine cleanrooms a possibility. Early watchmakers, for example, knew how important it was to keep the tiny gears of their watches clean, but it was extremely difficult to do so.

During World War II, bomb sight construction and miniaturization were crucial to the Allied victory; but they were also difficult to assemble in large quantities because it was hard to find a clean enough place within a factory.

Modern cleanrooms

Much of the modern tech we use every day would not be possible without modern cleanrooms. An American physicist by the name of Whitfield got a patent for the first reliable cleanroom in 1960, and his system of filtered air flow set the standard for every cleanroom in use today.

Walk- in freezers

As with cleanrooms, walk-in freezers are something we largely take for granted. Without them, we would not be able to store certain goods in quantity. There would be no commercial walk-in cooler supplier to outfit restaurants or even scientific labs with the rooms they need to operate.

The old days

Early people used pickling and salting to keep their food from going off. You might wonder why more people didn’t use ice to preserve their food, and the simple answer is that until the 19th century, ice was simply too expensive.

In 19th century America, however, an abundance of fresh river ice meant that people could use ice boxes to keep things cold, and copper-lined ice boxes popped up in every kitchen.

Early refrigeration

People had known since the early 1700s that certain gases under pressure could absorb heat and cool the air in a confined space, butthe technology didn’t exist to make anything like a modern freezer the late nineteenth century.

For a long time they weren’t widely used because the gases in these systems were toxic. As tech got better and safer, it eventually became possible to make ever larger units, until today every restaurant and local school has their own walk-in freezer.


If you’ve ever had to walk downstairs on a cold night to visit the bathroom, you’ll wonder how we got along without this room in our homes.

The ancient ways

Our ancestors had to leave their homes to relieve themselves. Washing took place at rivers, in the sea, or at a public bath.

Eventually castles and even some homes developed garderobes, or private toilets, where waste would simply drop through a hole and intothe river to be carried away. Another option was the chamber pot, which was carried to the person and emptied by servants.

Disease and toilets

The plagues and population growth of the Middle Ages inspired interest in hygiene, and in 1596 the first flushing toilet was invented. The upper classes to whom it was marketed had always had their toilets carried to them, however, and the flushing one didn’t move. These toilets also stank, so for a long while there was little interest in them.

It isn’t until 1775, when the S-trap was invented, that we were able to make toilets that didn’t allow sewer gas stench to come up into the house.

Modern bathrooms

Once people were piping water into a special room of the house to run a toilet, it was only natural to move bathing functions into that rooms as well. By the middle of the 20th century, all new homes in America were being made with indoor bathrooms and this room had become a place for relaxation and personal care.

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