Different Strokes for Different Folks: A History of the Toothbrush

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GE Cordless Automatic toothbrush

Although powered toothbrushes had been available for about 30 years, the electric toothbrush was not recognized as a viable alternative to the manual one until the 1960s. In 1961, Squibb & Sons offered the Broxodent, a plug-in electric toothbrush with up-and-down strokes, and General Electric announced their battery-operated GE Cordless Automatic Toothbrush. Rather than use mass marketing, both companies had approached the American Dental Association to endorse their products, expecting that consumers would adopt the electric toothbrush more readily if introduced to it by their dentists.

Segrave, K 2010 America Brushes Up, the use of marketing of toothpaste and toothbrushes in the twentieth century. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co.
GE Cordless toothbrush

GE Cordless toothbrush

The GE Model 5101 Cordless Automatic toothbrush (A649.1), shown here, was the first electric toothbrush to use a rechargeable nickel-cadmium battery.
Donors: Drs. Lary J. Schiller and Gregory J. Conte
GE Cordless toothbrush

GE Cordless toothbrush

The brush delivered a short back-and-forth movement at a speed of 2000 strokes per minute. When fully charged, 15 two-minute brushing sessions were possible. As compared to paying under a dollar for a manual toothbrush, its cost, at $19.95, seemed prohibitive.
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