The next time you flush, know that it took years for the toilet to become as advanced as it is today. The world’s oldest “water closet” was invented in India—a pot of water would wash away the waste through pipes and into drains, which were underneath the streets. By 315 AD, Rome had 144 public toilets. Instead of toilet paper, everyone used the same piece of sponge fixed onto a wooden handle. Could you handle this today? Fast forward all the to 1596—Sir John Harrington invented the world’s first water closet with a flush, a truly defining moment in the history of toilets!

Another key development happened in 1880, as the chain-pull toilet was invented in England. Ten years later, new flush toilets were introduced, but they wouldn’t become common in middle and working class homes until the 1920s. In 1986, the first sensor-flushing toilet was created in Japan. With the need for more potable water, the toilets of today have become very efficient. What’s coming up next in the future of toilets? Perhaps space toilets?

To learn more about the evolution of toilets as well as the history of plumbing, take a look at the infographic below presented by

Plumbing History