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Home » How to design an actually good toaster with lessons from the 1940's technology connections

How to design an actually good toaster with lessons from the 1940's technology connections

I love this toaster so dang much.

Here are those as-promised links in the description;
Link ONE: The original Sunbeam video;

Link TWO (why am I yelling?): The Electromagnet in your Toaster

And some other links, too!
Technology Connextras (the second channel that stuff goes on sometimes):

Technology Connections on Twitter:

The TC Subreddit

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How to design an actually good toaster with lessons from the 1940's

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42 thoughts on “How to design an actually good toaster with lessons from the 1940's technology connections”

  1. Besides I like the toastmaster toasters from the 50s/60s.

    I prefer to buy things that don't have a circuit board.
    It's just more crap to go bad way too early.

  2. I officially want one of these toasters. The only problem is that I can only find them on ebay, and they're all over £100 plus postage from the US. Very frustrating.

  3. imagine if cruise control on your car just set throttle position
    then to compensate for hills and weather they add programming for angle sensors and thermostats instead of just a speed sensor

    and that's what they did with toast

  4. It's almost 9pm as I finish this entire toaster saga, and I haven't had dinner yet, so I can't imagine why I could possibly have a hankering for some toast.

  5. This has probably already been mentioned somewhere downthread past where I was willing to scroll, but one other possible issue I see with a bagel setting on the original Sunbeam is that the whole point of a bagel setting is to heat unevenly, so the outside of the bagel facing the sensor will be at a significantly lower temperature than the inside facing the core heating element. And while you COULD compensate with the darkness adjustment, the temperature difference is likely to vary considerably from bagel to bagel, destroying that "perfect every time" advantage of the design. I suppose you could instruct the user to load the bagel with the cut surfaces facing outwards, but 1) that goes against years of user training in toasting bagels, and 2) you lose the "shut off immediately if empty" feature when the bagel setting is engaged. I don't know if anything would eventually fail leaving one of those on indefinitely, but it can't be good for it, or its surroundings…

    Any radiant heat toaster with a bagel setting is going to need the sensor on the surface that's being toasted.

  6. I believe you already know the answer. Appliance manufactures don't care and they want you to buy a new device every 5 – 10 years. And folks want to buy the cheapest device that just gets the job done. Product loyalty is long gone.

  7. One simple solution to many of the problems of keeping bread long term is to put it in the fridge. Putting it in the freezer is best for long term storage, but when it thaws in the fridge, it doesn't get soggy. (Unless your freezer is particularly prone to making ice form everywhere rather than just in the ice cube trays, in which case, if it's a relatively modern fridge, you may want to check on its defrosting system, because it's not supposed to do that…if your bag is coated with ice you'll need to get the frozen bread away from the ice and into a new storage place before you let it thaw.)

    Once thawed to the nice, cool temperature of a fridge, it can just stay there. The low temperature in the fridge dramatically slows the development of mould, making it quite easy for even a single person who has a couple of slices every few days to get through a loaf without losing bread to spoilage.

    Further, if you seal up the bread appropriately (the standard bag and clip will do, just squeeze some excess air out and twist the opening a few dozen times so that the disposable bread clip is actually holding it shut), it won't go stale because the low temperature prevents moisture from evaporating at a dramatic rate. (If it's fully exposed to the regular air of the fridge, this will change, because the fridge, too, has a rather dramatic dehumidification effect thanks to the benefits of fairly intense air conditioning/refrigeration. This effect will, instead, render your bread stale at a rather accelerated rate. So close the bag properly!)

    And yes, the bread is cold, but if you, like me, toast your bread regardless of how you use it, and if you, like me, lack the magical supertoaster from the past that Alec here so enjoys, you just need to calibrate the toaster to a colder start condition (and remember to refrigerate things you plan to toast in the toaster). Though this does have the side effect of making the defrost button on a toaster that offers such a service rather more aggressive than you might expect. I've got mine in a sweet spot where it neither undertoasts the fridge bread but doesn't burn the frozen bread, but if you can't find that position on yours, just set it up for the fridge bread and try to remember to interrupt the defrost/toast timer a bit early.

  8. I remember the first time I encountered one of these toasters. I was vacationing at the coast and the hotel had one. I put my bread in and turned around to grab something…. when I came back my bread was gone… hello? Ghost of Elvis? Why you take my toast? I soon realized it was down and toasting but how to get it back out? Pop! Perfect toast. Thank you Elvis. 🙂

  9. Thanks for the update! I bought my T-20B nearly 20 years ago because my parents had one, and because this one was made on the day I was born in 1956. The only attention it has needed is a cord replacement. We bake all our bread, and this toaster toasts it out of the freezer perfectly every time, much more consistently than our modern toaster that can handle bagels. It's an improvement over today's models in another way: it's very high powered and toasts in a fraction of the time.

  10. I found one of these in the wild and bought it for about 75 dollars. I got so excited when I saw it. Works fine but dialing it in is very fiddly. either too hot or too cold. still love it.

  11. This actually reminds me of far superior light metering present in the Pentax LX 35mm camera which continues to measure light reading directly off the film plane once exposure begins, and it will adjust exposure length from that reading after exposure begins. This accounts for many variables, including the specific film emulsion being used itself. No other film camera has had a more accurate method before or since.

  12. Surely the problem with a Bagel would be the toaster not switching off, because the sensor wouldn't pick up any heat through the Bagel hole, the inner elements not being energised on a bagel setting?

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