Dishwashers go all the way back to 1850 to a patent by Joel Houghton, a hand powered device. It was made of wood and cranked by hand while water sprayed onto dishes. The device was very slow and unreliable. Another patent was given to L.A. Alexander in 1865 and was very similar to the original but feature a hand-cranked rack system. Neither device was widely accepted or practical.
Modern dishwashers evolved from the 1887 invention by Josephine Cochrane who invented a new advanced dishwasher, also hand-powered which he unveiled at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Cochrane was quite wealthy because she was the granddaughter of John Fitch, the inventor of the steamboat, so she could get this off the ground. She never washed dishes herself but wanted it for her servants who kept chipping her fine china.
Dishwashers installed with permanent plumbing arrived in the 1920's. In 1924, William Howard Livens created a small conventional dishwasher suitable for domestic use. It had many features the modern dishwasher has, including a front door for loading, a wire rack and a rotating sprayer. Livens invention on the other hand was not a commercial success so electric drying elements were added in 1940.
Initially home and kitchen appliances where standalone and were not mass produced in certain standardized sizes. But with the development of the wall-to-wall countertop and the standardized height cabinets, dishwashers evolved into a standardized shape and size. They were first integrated into the sink and then underneath the kitchen countertop as an integrated unit. Integration was popular at first for commercial environments, but by the 1970's, it was very common to see it in the average home in the west. By 2005, 60 percent of US and Canadian homes had dishwasher units.