History of the vacuum cleaner

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Ives W. McGaffey

history vaccum cleanerThe first manually-powered cleaner using vacuum principles was the "Whirlwind", invented in Chicago in 1868 by Ives W. McGaffey. The machine was lightweight and compact, but was difficult to operate because of the need to turn a hand crank at the same time as pushing it across the floor. McGaffey obtained a patent for his device on June 5, 1869, and enlisted the help of The American Carpet Cleaning Co. of Boston to market it to the public. It was sold for $25, a high price in those days. It is hard to determine how successful the Whirlwind was, as most of them were sold in Chicago and Boston, and it is likely that many were lost in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Only two are known to have survived, one of which can be found in the Hoover Historical Center.

McGaffey was but one of many 19th-century inventors in the United States and Europe who devised manual vacuum cleaners. The first patent for an electrically driven "carpet sweeper and dust gatherer" was granted to Corinne Dufour of Savannah, Georgia in December 1900.
Melville Bissell

In 1876, Melville Bissell of Grand Rapids, Michigan created a vacuum cleaner for his wife, Anna to clean up sawdust in carpeting. Shortly after, Bissell Carpet Sweepers were born. After Melville died unexpectedly in 1889, Anna took control of the company and was one of the most powerful businesswomen of the day.
H. Cecil Booth

The first powered cleaner employing a vacuum was patented and produced by Hubert Cecil Booth in 1901. He noticed a device used in trains that blew dust off the chairs, and thought it would be much more useful to have one that sucked dust. He tested the idea by laying a handkerchief on the seat of a dinner chair, putting his mouth to the handkerchief, and then trying to suck up as much dust as he could onto the handkerchief. Upon seeing the dust and dirt collected on the underside of the handkerchief he realized the idea could work. Booth created a large device, known as Puffing Billy, driven first by an oil engine, and later by an electric motor. It was drawn by horses and parked outside the building to be cleaned.

Booth started the British Vacuum Cleaner Company and refined his invention over the next several decades. Though his "Goblin" model lost out to competition from Hoover in the household vacuum market, his company successfully turned its focus to the industrial market, building ever-larger models for factories and warehouses. Booth's company lives on today as a unit of pneumatic tube system maker Quirepace Ltd.

history vaccum cleaner
In 1910 P.A. Fisker patented a vacuum cleaner using a name based on the company’s telegram address — Nilfisk. It was the first electric vacuum cleaner in Europe. His design weighed just 17.5 kg and could be operated by a single person. The company Fisker and Nielsen was formed just a few years before. Today the Nilfisk vacuums are delivered by Nilfisk-Advance.

Walter Griffiths

In 1905 "Griffith's Improved Vacuum Apparatus for Removing Dust from Carpets" was another manually operated cleaner, patented by Walter Griffiths Manufacturer, Birmingham, England. It was portable, easy to store, and powered by "any one person (such as the ordinary domestic servant)", who would have the task of compressing a bellows-like contraption to suck up dust through a removable, flexible pipe, to which a variety of shaped nozzles could be attached. This was arguably the first domestic vacuum-cleaning device to resemble the modern vacuum cleaner.
David T. Kenney

Nine patents granted to the New Jersey inventor David T. Kenney between 1903 and 1913 established the foundation for the American vacuum cleaner industry. Membership in the Vacuum Cleaner Manufacturers' Association, formed in 1919, was limited to licensees under his patents.

James Murray Spangler

In 1907, James Murray Spangler, a janitor in Canton, Ohio invented an electric vacuum cleaner from a fan, a box, and a pillowcase. Crucially, in addition to suction, Spangler's design incorporated a rotating brush to loosen debris. Lacking the funds to produce his design himself, he sold the patent to W.H.Hoover.


Spangler patented his rotating-brush design June 2nd 1908, and eventually sold the idea to his cousin's husband, W.H. Hoover. Hoover was looking for a new product to sell, as the leather goods produced by his 'Hoover Harness and Leather Goods' company were becoming obsolete, due to the invention of the automobile. In the United States, Hoover remains one of the leading manufacturers of household goods, including cleaners; and Hoover became very wealthy from the invention. Indeed, in Britain the name Hoover became synonymous with the vacuum cleaner so much so that one "hoovers" one's carpets. Initially called 'The Electric Suction Sweeper Company', their first vacuum was the 1908 'Model O', which sold for $60.

Constellation Hoover Constellation of 1960

history vaccum cleanerHoover is also notable for an unusual vacuum cleaner, the Hoover Constellation, which is a canister type but lacks wheels. Instead, the vacuum cleaner floats on its exhaust, operating as a hovercraft, although this is not true of the earliest models. They had a swivel top hose with the intention being that the user would place the unit in the center of the room, and work around the cleaner.

Introduced in 1952, they are collectible, and are easily identified by the spherical shape of the canister. They tended to be loud, had poor cleaning power, and could not float over carpets. But they remain an interesting machine; restored, they work well in homes with lots of hardwood floors.

The Constellations were changed and updated over the years until discontinued in 1975. These Constellations route all of the exhaust under the vacuum using a different airfoil. The updated design is quiet even by modern standards, particularly on carpet as it muffles the sound. These models float on carpet or bare floor - although on hard flooring, the exhaust air tends to scatter any fluff or debris around.

Hoover has now re-released an updated version of this later model Constellation in the US (model # S3341 in Pearl White and # S3345 in stainless steel). Changes include a HEPA filtration bag, a 12 amp motor, a suction turbine powered rotating brush floor head, and a redesigned version of the handle, which tended to break.

This same model was marketed in the UK under the Maytag brand, with the model being the Satellite. Same machine, different badges, owing to licensing restrictions.

The 5.2 amp motor on older US units provides respectable suction but they all lack a motorized brush head. Therefore they generally work better on hard floors or short pile rugs. Old units take Hoover type J paper bags but the slightly smaller type S allergen filtration bags can be easily trimmed to fit the retaining notches on the old vacuums. Replacement motors are still available from Hoover US for some models.

Hoover made another hovering vacuum cleaner model called the Celebrity in 1973. It has a flattened "flying saucer" shape. Hoover added wheels to it make it a conventional canister model after a brief run as a hovering vacuum. It uses type H bags.

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Anonymous said...

hello, i have a hoover like this in my boyfriends parents garage, its got the original box, reccipt and hoses im just wondering if you know where i can take it to get a price estimation. the detail on the bottom are, model:822A, serial no: h.c 85932- Hoover limited-the hoover cleaner. thank you and i hope you can please help me. email me at burty646@hotmail.com please. Somerset, United Kingdom.

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