The inventor of the toilet cannot be attributed to only one person. There were many contributors to what now makes up the modern day toilet. Its development spanned from 2500 BC to 1886, improving along the way. The following timeline is based on Anglo history and does not include information from other cultures. Along the way, thankfully, toilet paper got invented.
- 2800 BC to 2000 BC. From the ruins of ancient civilizations around the world there is evidence that both communal and domestic flushing toilets existed. Excavations found remnants in Northwest India (now Pakistan), Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Island of Crete.
- 200 BC to 315 AD. Evidence of toilets was found in Rome and China.
- 1391 – Ming Dynasty. Emperor Hong Wu ordered 2’ x 3’ sheets of paper for wiping.
- 1596 – Sir John Harrington. The Ajax was invented by Harrington for Elizabeth I of England. The English ridiculed the invention, but France adopted it and called it Angrez. A flush valve let the tank water out, and there was a wash-down design which emptied the bowl.
- 1738 – J.F. Brondel. Brondel invented a valve-type flush toilet.
- 1775 – Alexander Cummings. The S-trap which is still used today was invented by Cummings. The trap used standing water to prevent the escape of foul air from the sewer through the outlet of the bowl.
- 1777 – Samuel Prosser. Prosser contributed his patented invention called the plunger closet.
- 1778 – Joseph Bramah. Mostly used on boats, Bramah invented a crank valve that sealed the bottom of the bowl. He also invented a float valve system for the tank.
- 1819 – Albert Giblin. The British patented Giblin’s “Silent Valveless Water Waste Preventer” which was a siphon discharge system. This patent was later bought by Thomas Crapper from Giblin (his employee) and Crapper marketed them.
- 1852 – J. G. Jennings. Jennings design was a wash-out that had a shallow pan that emptied into an S-trap.
- 1857 – First American Patent. The plunger closet patent was granted. Gavetty also invented the first packaged toilet paper.
- 1877 – Zeth Wheeler. The
- 1880s – Thomas Crapper. Using Giblin’s design, Thomas Crapper’s plumbing company began building flush toilets. Even though Crapper did not invent the toilet, he made the siphon system for tank emptying popular.
- 1885 – Thomas Twyford. Some of the designs for Crapper’s toilets were made by Thomas Twyford. He built the first one-piece china toilet that used Jenning’s flush-out siphon design. Oliver Hicks received a patent for the packaging and manufacturing of toilet paper.
- 1886 – Beaufort Works. In England, Beaufort Works manufactured the first early jet flush toilet.
- 1888 – Thomas Kennedy. Kennedy invented the siphonic closet that only has two delivery pipes.
- 1890 – William Howell. Howell’s invention eliminated the lower trap.
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