Robotic Rice Cookers
Wahiawa Middle School - Team #05-0099
Utilizing electricity to cook rice was first experimented with during the end of the Taisho era (mid 1920s). These “electric stoves” and “electric rice tubs” were merely stoves and tubs with heating coils attached.
In the late 1940’s, the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation made an electric rice cooker that was a simple pot that had a heating coil inside. It was the closest thing to the rice cookers of today. However, this model was inconvenient because it required total attention during the duration of cooking and had no automation. Matsushita Electric launched a similar rice cooker and Sony launched an electronic rice tube, but they also were not successful.
December 10, 1956, the Toshiba project team put 700 automatic rice
the market but the reputation of rice cookers
sell them. Instead, Toshiba had the
electric power companies which had
problems with surplus power, acting
as distributors. Their employees went to
demonstrate the rice cookers and instead of sinking like
like balloons! After its sudden
popularity, Toshiba began to produce 200,000 rice cookers a
later, rice cookers could be found in half of the homes in
Toshiba’s success was due to a timer that could set the rice cooker to cook perfectly on its own. The secret was to detect exactly when the rice began to boil and to turn off the switch exactly 20 minutes later. Their method was to have two pots: the outer pot was filled with a cup of water and the inner pot cooked the rice. Toshiba used the evaporation of the water from the outer pot as the timer. When the water in the outer pot evaporated in 20 minutes, it signified that the temperature exceeded 100 degrees Celsius and was detected by a bimetallic thermostat that could turn the switch off. This design was so successful that it remained unchanged for nine years.