What Was The First Vacuum Cleaner Like

What Was The First Vacuum Cleaner Like

Vacuum cleaners have become such an integral part of our lives today that we fear even to imagine what life without them would be. In fact, just the thought of following a back breaking and time consuming routine of manual cleaning makes people lose their sleep. These appliances have simplified the hardest and most important of everyday tasks for millions of people across the globe.

Earliest Mechanized Cleaners

However, the vacuum cleaners have gone through various phases of development and evolution to reach their present level of sophistication and efficiency. The first ever vacuum cleaner was developed from manual carpet sweepers which were used as early as the 1860’s. The cleaner operated with the help of bellows used for sucking in the dust collected by a rotating brush. The credit of creating the first non motorized carpet sweeper goes to Daniel Hess from Iowa in 1860, even though the first such machine was patented Ives McGaffey from Chicago in 1869.

Unlike the sleek and lightweight appliances of today, these manual carpet sweepers were extremely heavy. They used a belt driven fan that was cranked manually and made its operation quite awkward.  Later in 1898, an improvised version of the cleaner was developed by John S. Thurman from Missouri. Thurman’s machine was powered by gasoline and operated by blowing the dust into a receptacle rather than being sucked in.  Thurman was known to be the first person to offer door to door cleaning services in St. Louis, Missouri and he charged $4 for every visit.

First Motorized Vacuum Cleaner

However, the first truly motorized vacuum cleaner was developed in 1901 by an Englishman named Hubert Cecil Booth, after watching a demonstration of the American machine, believed to be the one developed by Thurman. Seeing the machine in operation gave Booth the idea of using a filter between the surface being cleaned and the sucking apparatus for more hygienic cleansing. Before actually creating the machine, Booth tested the principle on which it would work by trying to filter the dust he was trying to suck up from a restaurant chair with his mouth, by placing a handkerchief between the chair and his mouth.

Booth’s first vacuum cleaner was a huge machine, which he nicknamed Puffing Billy and which was powered by an internal combustion engine. It used a cloth filter through which the air was drawn using a piston pump. The machine did not have any brushes and the cleaning was carried out with the help of suction through long tubes and nozzles. The machine was so bulky that it had to be drawn by horses and produced great noise. Booth later improved on his design to create the version that used electric –power for its operation but was unable to reduce the size and weight even then.

Booth’s discovery was significant in that it worked on almost the same principals as the modern vacuum cleaners. In fact the term “vacuum cleaner” was first used for marketing the machines whose design was patented by the inventor in 1901, by British Vacuum Cleaner Company (BVCC), a company set up by Booth years later.

First Portable Domestic Cleaners

The first portable vacuum cleaners to be used for domestic cleaning were developed in 1905 by another Englishman from Birmingham, named Walter Griffiths. These vacuum cleaners were a lot like the ones we use in our homes today and were much easier to use and store than the earlier machines. They could also be operated with nozzles of different shapes and sizes for a more efficient cleaning.

After that, constant innovations in vacuum cleaner designs and performance continued to be made by various inventors. The trend continues to this day to ensure that household cleaning becomes a less troublesome and more effortless and enjoyable task around the world!

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