How toasters work

It’s not just big science that intrigues me, it’s everyday tech that excites me too. For instance, despite having used toasters for most of my 41 (what! when did that happen?) years, I’m still amazed that the little machines won’t stay down unless they have power applied and that they somehow toast bread pretty consistently.

There are many kinds of toasters, but they’re all quite clever. They use the movement of us dropping the bread in to turn on the circuits that hold the bread in place, and run current through the elements that electromagnetically radiate our bread. Some use timers, some use bi-metallic strips, some use sensors that measure heat through the bread.

For a good explanation of the inner workings of toasters, check out the always well-written HowStuffWorks.

Exploded toaster from http://www.toaster.org

And I can’t resist a toaster-themed engineering dig at computer science types.