Key dates in the history and development of the Vacuum Cleaner:
1599 – England. First attempts at a mechanical solution to floor cleaning begin. Previously rugs were hung over a wall or line and hit with a carpet beater.
1858 – Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Hiram H. Herrick submits a patent for a carpet sweeper, however it was not successful because of its complex and inefficient design.
1860 – West Union, Iowa, USA. Daniel Hess invents a vacuum cleaner using a rotating brush, like a carpet sweeper, but with mechanical bellows which generated suction. However he still called it a carpet sweeper in his patent.
1876 – Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Melville Bissell created a push powered carpet sweeper for his wife, Anna, to clean up sawdust in carpeting. Shortly afterwards he formed the ‘Bissell Carpet Sweepers’ company, which made his wife one of the most powerful business women of the time following his unexpected death in 1889.
1899 – St Louis, USA. John Thurman invents a gasoline-powered Vacuum cleaner, widely considered to be the first motorised cleaner, however the machine blows dust into a container, rather than sucking it up. In 1903 he starts a horse-drawn vacuum system with a door to door service charging $4 per visit.
1901 – United Kingdom. Hubert Cecil Booth patents a motorised vacuum cleaner which is a large, horse-drawn, petrol-driven unit. He parked the device outside the building to be cleaned and fed long hoses through the windows. He first demonstrated its effectiveness in a restaurant in the same year and successfully sucked up dirt.
1907 – Canton, Ohio, USA. James Spangler, a janitor in a department store, attached an old motor to a soapbox stapled to a broom handle, with a pillow case to collect dust, to solve the issue of the existing carpet sweeper causing his chronic coughing. Over the next year he improved upon the design and in 1908 received a patent for the first portable and electric vacuum cleaner, which also featured an improved cloth filter bag and cleaning attachments.
1908 – Canton, Ohio, USA. James Spangler forms the Electric Suction Sweeper Company and sells one of the first models to his cousin, whose husband, William Hoover, becomes the founder and president of the Hoover Company. Spangler sells the patent right to, but continues to design for, William Hoover. Hoover continues to finance improvements to the machine, offering incentives such as 10 day free home trials until there was eventually a Hoover vacuum cleaner in nearly every American home.
1919 – USA. Hoover vacuum cleaners are now widely manufactured, complete with a ‘beater bar’, prompting a well know advertising slogan of the time “It beats as it sweeps as it cleans”.
1920 – Toledo, Ohio, USA. The Air-way Sanitizer Company introduces the ‘filter fiber’ disposable bag.
1983 – Japan. The first Dyson G-Force cleaners are sold through a catalogue in Japan – they are bright pink but revolutionary as they didn’t need replacement bags. However, the inventor James Dyson was unable to find a distributor willing to upset the huge market for replacement bags, so he formed his own company and the resulting ‘bagless’ revolution in home vacuuming began.
2013 – Everywhere. Vacuum manufacturers all over the world are now developing increasingly efficient and lightweight machines, which have a variety of attachments doing remarkable things, with the level of innovation and change continuing at a remarkable pace, meaning our homes are becoming cleaner and more dust free than ever.
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