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The history of the Vacuum Cleaner

In 1868 the first manual carpet cleaner was invented by Ives W. McGaffey in Chicago. It was something relatively light and compact, but with a tricky hand crank and an eyebrow-raising $25 price tag (who could afford such convenience?).

Almost 30 years later in 1901 Hubert Cecil Booth introduced one of the first powered vacuum cleaners. Before Booth introduced his version of the vacuum cleaner, cleaning machines blew or brushed dirt away instead of sucking it up. Booth created a large device, driven by an internal combustion engine. Nicknamed the "Puffing Billy", Booth's first gas-powered, horse-drawn vacuum cleaner relied upon air drawn by a piston pump through a cloth filter. It did not contain any brushes; all the cleaning was done by suction through long tubes with nozzles on the ends. Although the machine was too bulky to be brought into the building, its principles of operation were essentially the same as the vacuum cleaners of today.

In 1905, Walter Griffiths Manufacturer sold a manually-operated cleaner that removed dust from carpets in Birmingham, England. This manually-operated vacuum cleaner was portable and easy to store. It was one of the first cleaners to look similar to the modern vacuum.

James Spangler built an electrically-powered vacuum cleaner from three parts: a fan, pillowcase, and box in 1907. Spangler’s design consisted of a suction device and a rotating brush to loosen dirt, dust, grime, and grease stuck on fabric. Spangler’s vacuum cleaner, also known as the “Model O,” cost about $60 on the retail market. In 1908, Spangler patented his rotating brush design before selling it to a relative we all have heard of...William Henry Hoover.

The vacuum cleaning industry went silent during the 1920s and 1930s, because carpet had become unfashionable during this time. However, most people acknowledged that rugs needed vacuuming before shampooing. During the Second World War inventors shifted their perspective to chemicals, which evolved into modern-day carpet cleaning. In fact, carpet cleaners still employ the same basic principles developed after 1945 in today’s industry.

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