Illinois History Minutes

December 28 Illinois History Minute


It’s December 28th, the day in 1886 that Josephine Garis Cochrane of Shelbyville and later Chicago received a patent for what’s considered the first commercially viable automatic dishwasher. She built the first one in the shed behind her home, with the help of mechanic George Butters, her first employee. The dishwasher was initially marketed to restaurants and hotels. But it wasn’t until the 1950s, years after Cochrane’s death, when her dishwasher, now made by KitchenAid, started to become a fixture in people’s homes.

Actress, singer and dancer Nichelle Nichols was born Grace Dell Nichols on this day in 1932 in the Chicago suburb of Robbins, and grew up in the Chicago area, where she began her show business career. Nichols played Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura, one of the first Black characters to be featured in a major dramatic TV series. Nichols played the character in the original Star Trek series of the 1960s, five Star Trek movies, and provided Uhura’s voice in a Saturday morning animated series.