This entertaining history of household objects provides the inventors, the ideas or needs behind the innovations, and the dates they were invented. Separate chapters address bathrooms (toilets, sinks, bathtubs), cooking (stoves, toasters, refrigerators), cleaning up (laundry machines, irons, vacuum cleaners), telephones, pens and pencils, typewriters, and more. Rubin (Emily in Love, 1997, etc.) explains how the idea for the book came about; when she was remodeling her kitchen and chose her new stove, its red knobs so ""dazzled"" her that she began thinking about good design. Others have thought about good design, too; in 1938, Rubin points out, household objects began to be recognized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as ""applied arts."" The large black-and-white pictures, especially of the early prototypes, offer clear reference points for the progression of machinery through the ages. Computers, cellular phones, Caller ID--readers will never take them for granted again after reading about their remarkable predecessors.