The history of bread making goes back as far as 30,000 years ago. But it was not until 20,000 years thereafter that it became a staple food. It will not be a surprise that the history of the modern automatic bread machines does not go as far. In the ancient days, kneading of the dough was obviously done by hand and for backing charcoal or wood heated ovens were used. This continued for thousands of years.
It was not until 1849 when the first automatic bread machine was invented. It all started when black American inventor Joseph Lee invented the bread crumbler. During those days, bread could only be kept for 1 day. At the end of the day, all leftovers had to be thrown away. Lee found this waste of food and with the culinary background he had, he knew that its crumbs could very useful in the preparation of food. He invented the bread crumbler. On 4th June 1895 he successfully patented the machine. Occasionally he sold the patent to Royal Worcester Bread Crumb Company of Boston and soon many restaurants around the world owned one of Joseph's bread crumblers! His next invention was the bread machine; this machine mainly took care of the kneading of the dough. Lee's invention increased productivity by 500 percent; one person could now do the same amount of work that previously was done by five to six persons. For those who are interested; Jerome T Peoples has authored a book about Lee, it's worth checking out; Lee's Bread Machines: The father of automated bread making .
It was not until 1986 that Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (now Panasonic) invented the first model of the full automatic bread machines that we know today. The latest machines combine the kneading, the rising and the backing in one machine without the necessity for human intervention. It still took up to 10 years for Panasonic invention to gain popularity in USA, Australia and UK. Since the first Panasonic bread machine we have seen a huge increase in functionality. The Best Bread Maker has preprogrammed Bread Making cycles for all different types of Bread, eg Whole Wheat, White Bread, Sourdough, kneading pizza dough, etc. Many different bands have also ventured into the automated bread making business; Oster bread machine, West Bend bread maker and Breville bread maker. But up until now Panasonic remains the number one best bread maker producer.