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Who Invented the Oven and When? (History of the Oven)

man using an oven

When you enter any kitchen in a household, you’ll almost always see an oven. But while it’s commonplace today and makes both weeknight and special occasion dinners so much easier, it wasn’t always so common.

When did humans first start using ovens, and who invented them? The answers to these questions are a bit complicated, and it all comes down to what kind of oven you’re talking about. We break down everything for you here.

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The First Official Oven

brick oven
Image By: Cathal Mac an Bheatha, Unsplash

While no one really knows the first time that a human created an oven, we do know that the first record of an oven is from 1490. It was a French brick and tile stove oven. There were likely older ovens than this, but we just don’t know about them!

We also don’t know exactly who built this stove, which is the case for most wood-burning stoves. The first stove that used a more advanced design came from François de Cuvilliés with the Castrol stove. This contained smoke inside the oven, compared to letting it go throughout the room.

Present-Day Ovens

If you’re looking for an oven that more closely resembles the ovens in our homes today, they started to hit the market in the early 1800s. They grew in popularity into the 1920s, and at this point, you could find them in most homes.

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Different Types of Ovens Through the Ages

From wood-burning ovens to microwave ovens, these kitchen appliances have changed quite a bit over the years.

1. Wood-Burning Ovens

Before modern technologies, the best way that humans had to heat things up was with wood. So, it makes perfect sense that the first ovens used wood to create the necessary heat.

The first known wood stove was recorded in the late 15th century, and it wasn’t until the early 1800s that humans started consistently using other heat sources for ovens.

However, while these wood-burning ovens were a huge step up from cooking over an open flame, they did have a few limitations, including temperature control.

Wood-burning ovens didn’t have knobs or dials to tell the user the current temperature inside, and as the wood burned, it created different amounts of heat that the user needed to account for.

2. Iron Stoves

Around 1728, manufacturers started to produce the first iron stoves. These still used wood as their primary heat source, but they used one heat source to heat multiple ovens. Moreover, users could control the amount of heat sent to any particular oven, which made temperature control easier.

Early iron stoves were extremely large, so you wouldn’t find them in single homes, but you could find them in large industrial settings.

3. Coal and Kerosene Ovens

man using an oven
Image By: ArtOfPhotos, Shutterstock

In the 19th century, both coal and kerosene ovens started to hit the market, with the first sootless kerosene oven coming at the end of the 19th century. With new heat sources, users could more accurately control different temperatures.

4. Gas Ovens

James Sharp patented the first gas oven in 1826, and by the 1920s, most homes in developed nations had a gas-powered oven. These ovens made it far easier to provide consistent heat without needing to constantly bring in outside materials or have a massive oven setup.

5. Electric Ovens

While the first electric ovens came around in the 1890s, they didn’t start to compete with gas ovens until the 1920s and 1930s. Today, you can find both electric and gas ovens in homes all throughout developed countries.

6. The Microwave Oven

When we’re talking about ovens, the microwave isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But the technology came about in the 1940s, and it offered a convenient and quick way to heat food with electromagnetic radiation.

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Final Thoughts

While the oven is commonplace today, it is something that you really should appreciate. Having an oven in every kitchen has made it far easier to make meals for decades, and for most of human history, they didn’t work nearly as well as they do now!

Featured Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock


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