Before the invention of hair dryers, women and men would often attach hoses to the exhaust ends of vacuum cleaners to blow-dry their hair.
In 1890, French stylist Alexandre-Ferdinand Godefroy devised a contraption combining a seat with a hood connected to a gas stove. A client would sit underneath the hood while a hand crank blew hot air from the stove over her hair.
Godefroy’s hair hood dryer was widely copied and iterated upon, and became a staple of hair salons. Variants included features such as articulable nozzles and heated coils in lieu of a single helmet.
The first patent for a handheld hair dryer was granted in 1911. Early portable dryers had a few problems, though — they were heavy, produced air barely warmer than room temperature, and had an irritating habit of electrocuting users.
Salon hair dryers remained the best option until the 1970s, when handheld dryers had advanced in aesthetics, power and safety enough to be a viable alternative.