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Inventors The History of Vacuum Cleaners
By Mary Bellis

Vacuum Cleaners on Display
Photo: Early vacuum cleaners on display in department store

*June 8 - Ives McGaffey patents the vacuum cleaner, a "sweeping machine" in 1869. This was the first patent for a device that cleaned rugs.

Hubert Cecil Booth, a British engineer, received a British patent for a vacuum cleaner on August 30th 1901 and took the form of a large, horse-drawn, petrol-driven unit which was parked outside the building to be cleaned with long hoses being fed through the windows. As Hubert Booth, demonstrated his vacuuming device in a restaurant in 1901, two Americans introduced variations on the same theme. Corinne Dufour invented a device that sucked dust into a wet sponge. David E. Kenney’s huge machine was installed in the cellar and connected to a network of pipes leading to each room in the house. A corps of cleaners moved the machine from house to house.

In 1907, James Murray Spangler, a janitor in a Canton, Ohio department store, deduced that the carpet sweeper he used was the source of his cough. He tinkered with an old fan motor and attached it to a soap box stapled to a broom handle. Using a pillow case as a dust collector on the contraption, Spangler invented a portable electric vacuum cleaner. He then improved his basic model the first to use both a cloth filter bag and cleaning attachments, and received a patent in 1908, and formed the Electric Suction Sweeper Company. One of the first buyers was a cousin, whose husband, William H. Hoover, later became the president of the Hoover Company, with Spangler as superintendent. Hoover’s improvements resembled a bagpipe attached to a cake box, but they worked. Sluggish sales were given a kick by Hoover’s 10 day, free home trial, and eventually there was a Hoover® vacuum cleaner in nearly every home.

Other Trivia - John Thurman
John Thurman started a horse drawn (door to door service) vacuum system in St. Louis, similiar to Booth's. His vacuuming services were priced at $4 per visit  in 1903. He invented his gasoline powered vacuum cleaner, in 1899 and some historians consider it the first motorized vacuum cleaner. Thurman's machine was patented on October 3, 1899 (patent #634,042).

Carpet Sweeper
The dust kicked up in Melville and Anna Bissell’s crockery shop and inspired Melville Bissell’s invention of the carpet sweeper. Originally developed to preserve Melville’s health by sweeping away the dust, the Bissells soon recognized the sweeper’s market potential. Women neighbors of the Bissells, working out of their homes in Grand Rapids, Michigan, put together the inner workings and cases of the sweeper. They secured tufts of hog bristles with string, dipped the tufts into hot pitch, inserted the tufts into brush rollers, and trimmed them with scissors. Mrs. Bissell then gathered the parts in a clothes basket and took them back to a room above the store for assembly. While production was underway, Mr. Bissell was on the road selling his new invention. To demonstrate, he threw a handful of dirt onto a carpet while his prospective customer watched the dirt disappear into the clanging contraption… a sale was made. The Bissell Carpet Sweeper ® remains virtually unchanged today.

Vintage Vacuum Cleaner Museum
Wait for the download -- you can clean up with the treasures in this website, sound effects.

*The Whirlwind: Oldest Vacuum Cleaner In The World (non-electric)
By Robert Taber, from "Floor Care Professional", - the vacuum cleaner was invented in a Chicago basement in 1869. It was the brainchild of Ives W. McGaffey. McGaffey obtained a patent for the machine on June 5, 1869, calling it the Whirlwind. It was the first hand-pumped vacuum cleaner in the United States, a wood and canvas contraption.

Vacuum Cleaner Facts
Find out who invented the first vacuum cleaners & when other features were added (like electric motors).

  • The Hoover Company of New Berlin, Ohio (now North Canton) built the first electric vacuum cleaner that used both a cloth filter bag and cleaning attachments starting in the year 1908. It was invented by James Spangler of Canton, Ohio the previous year.
  • Air-way Sanitizor which began in Toledo, Ohio in 1920, introduced a new product, the "filter fiber" disposable bag - maybe the most important cleaning "first" of all.
Sucking up to the Vacuum Cleaner
In 1907, William Henry Hoover produced the first commercial bag-on-a-stick upright vacuum cleaner in Ohio, USA, although he was not responsible for its design. He bought the patent from his wife's cousin, James Murray Spangler. By 1919, Hoover cleaners were being manufactured in the UK, complete with the "beater bar" to establish the time honoured slogan "It beats as it sweeps as it cleans".

A History of the Vacuum Cleaner
From the History Channel - The first "portable" electric vacuum was invented in 1905 by Chapman and Skinner in San Francisco. It weighed 92 pounds and used a fan 18 inches in diameter to produce the suction. Because of its size, it did not sell well.

A History of the Vacuum Cleaner
The first attempts to provide a less muscle - straining, time - taking, more mechanical approach to floor cleaning were begun in England in 1599 and again some 254 years later, in 1853.

A History of the Vacuum Cleaner
Several different brand histories discussed - Hoover, Eureka and Royal Appliance.

History of Vacuum Cleaner
Revolutionary idea of sucking in dust was realized by Cecil Booth, a British engineer. One day, he watched a electrical cleaner invented by an American inventor. Later he [Cecil Booth] invented a vacuum cleaner called 'Booth's vacuum cleaning pump' in 1901. This was a huge machine; a coach wagon equipped with a pump.

Related Information
Kitchen Appliances
Who invented the refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave oven and other kitchen appliances.

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