The not so perfect box and chain thing

Bill Gates money is going into the toilet. But its good news for all. From a recent Economist article:

If Thomas Crapper were around today, he would find our toilets quite familiar,” says Bill Gates, referring to the Victorian manufacturer of sanitary ware whose name has become attached to one of the body’s most fundamental functions. “They haven’t seen many advances apart from handles and paper toilet rolls.” In fact, with the exception of S-traps to contain odours, flush toilets have changed little since Sir John Harington installed one in Richmond Palace for Queen Elizabeth I [1596].

Mr Gates considers it time for a change. On August 14th his charitable institution, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced the gold-, silver- and bronze-medal winners in its Reinvent The Toilet Challenge, which aims to bring safe, affordable and “sustainable” loos to the 40% of the world’s population who lack access to basic sanitation, thus preventing many of the 1.5m childhood deaths from diarrhea that now occur each year.

Wait, say again. The man associated with designing the modern day toilet was named Thomas Crapper? Be still my heart. Alas not true. But that’s where Robert Wuhl and Liberty Valance come in — when the legend becomes fact, print the legend — here’s the legend:

It all started with U.S. soldiers stationed in England during WWI. The toilets in England at the time were predominately made by the company “Thomas Crapper & Co Ltd”, with the company’s name appearing on the toilets. The soldiers took to calling toilets “The Crapper” and brought that slang term for the toilet back with them to the United States.

OK, so he’s not the inventor of the modern day toilet, but as a successful merchant his name was on many indoor plumbing products, some of which his company did patent. Specifically, the one immortalized by Tessio, “… it’s perfect, an old-fashion’ toilet — you know, the box, and chain-thing.”

So there you go again, Crapper did build that!

About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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