The Sunbeam Radiant Control Toaster from 1949 is still smarter than any toaster sold today

Monday, December 6th, 2021

The Sunbeam Radiant Control Toaster from 1949 is still smarter than any toaster sold today:

With the Sunbeam, the heat radiating from the bread itself warms up a bimetal strip (one of the simplest kinds of thermostats) which, being made of two different kinds of metal that expand at different rates, ends up bending backwards to sever the connection and stop the flow of electricity when the toast is done. And here’s the most ingenious part: when the heating wire shrinks as it cools down, that is what triggers the mechanical chain reaction that lifts your bread back up.

They go for an average of $130 on eBay, with fully restored models fetching two to four times that at auction.


  1. Sasha Melnik says:

    A most based tech channel. His take on the state of microwave ovens is also like this. They just got cheaper to make but never got better.

    I recall microwave ovens that could produce a constant heating level, rather than the on/off dance of modern ones. Obviously far more expensive to produce.

  2. Chedolf says:

    The absolute polar opposite of Sunbeam Radiant Control Toaster design elegance:

    In 2010 Fisher Price re-released their Music Box Record Player

    (50-50 I saw this on Twitter because Isegoria retweeted it. Can’t remember for sure.)

  3. Chris J. says:

    My mother grew up with a T-20, as did I, as did my daughter. My grandmother accumulated them, she liked them so much. Nothing produced today even comes close and I won’t give mine up til I’m dead.

    I wish that kind of quality and durability were still available.

  4. Slovenian Guest says:

    They made much better instructional videos back then as well: Spinning Levers – How A Transmission Works (1936).

    To quote a commenter from the video, “I wonder if these guys knew in 1936 that over the next 100 years, no one would beat them in their explanation of how a manual transmission works.”

    Exactly what I was thinking, too.

  5. Jim says:

    As to be expected. 1949 was before the bloodsucking vampire squid had fully attached itself to the face. Additionally, the Anglo-German Protestant element had not yet been exhausted and ceased to be.

  6. Bill says:

    Effing toasters. Our toaster oven (which is a crappy excuse for a toaster, btw) broke and I went looking for toasters. It doesn’t matter if you spend fifteen dollars or two hundred dollars, they’re all crap. Every toaster has a variety of one star reviews on Amazon. They toast unevenly. They break and can’t be repaired. They take up ungodly amounts of space. They take too long to warm up.

    Our level of civilization has fallen steadily in the last several generations. Unreliable internet is nothing compared to unreliable toast.

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