A vacuum cleaner (also called a vacuum or hoover or a sweeper) is a device that uses an air pump to create a partial vacuum to suck up dust and dirt, usually from floors.
The first attempts to provide a mechanical solution to floor cleaning were begun in England in 1599. Before vacuum cleaners, rugs were hung over a wall or line and hit repeatedly with a carpet beater to remove out as much dirt as possible.
In United States, the first hand-powered cleaner called the “Whirlwind” used the vacuum principle and was invented in Chicago, Illinois in 1865 by Ives W. McGaffey. Whirlwind was not motorized but used a hand crank to operate a fan to generate suction. This design was not very heavy, but was hard to operate because the operator had to turn the crank while pushing it over the rug or floor. McGaffey obtained a patent for the machine on June 5, 1869 and started the American Carpet Cleaning Co.
John Thurman invented gasoline-powered vacuum cleaner in 1899 and it was considered as the first motorized vacuum cleaner. Thurman's machine was patented on October 3, 1899.
Another person who has helped the evolution of the vacuum cleaner is Hubert Cecil Booth who was a British engineer. He observed a device in which a blast of air was used to remove the dust from the chairs on the train.
He thought to replicate the opposite effect and tried sucking with his mouth against the back of a plush seat in a restaurant. He understood that he would have to find an alternative to filter the air and trap the dust.
He received a British patent for his suction cleaner in 30th August, 1901.
It was a large, horse-drawn, petrol-driven unit which was parked outside the building to be cleaned with long hoses being entered through the windows to clean the rooms. In 1901, first demonstration of this vacuum cleaner was done in a restaurant.
This vacuum cleaner was made of an internal-combustion engine that used gas and did not include any brushes. His invention was well received by British Royalty and this opened up the door for other inventors to try and improve the vacuum cleaner.
Two Americans improved the booth’s design of vacuum cleaner. Corinne Dufour invented a device that sucked dust into a wet sponge and David E. Kenney invented a huge machine that was installed in the cellar and connected to a network of pipes leading to each room in the house.
Between 1903 and 1913, New Jersey inventor David T. Kennedy was granted nine patents for machines similar to the Puffing Billy and established the Suction Cleaner Company and the American vacuum cleaner industry.
Walter Griffiths developed an improved manual vacuum cleaner in Birmingham, England in 1905. The operator pumped a bellows-like contraption to suck up dirt through a flexible pipe; this was the first device that resembled a modern vacuum cleaner.
In 1907, James Murray Spangler, a janitor in a Canton, Ohio department store, found that the carpet sweeper he used was the source of his cough. He was allergic to dust but could not afford to leave his job.
He decided to find a solution for this and tried to improve the way he swept the carpet. He invented a portable electric vacuum cleaner.
It was made up of an old fan motor attached to a soap box stapled to a broom handle. He used a pillow case as a dust collector on the contraption. He then improved his basic model to use both a cloth filter bag and cleaning attachments.
Spangler patented his rotating-brush design in 1908 and formed the Electric Suction Sweeper Company. One of the first buyers was a cousin, Susan Hoover, the wife of a leather goods manufacturer, and she was really impressed with the cleaner. Her husband, William H. Hoover bought the rights from James and made him a partner in Hoover’s Electric Suction Sweeper Company.
He became the president of the Hoover Company, with Spangler as superintendent. He invested money for the manufacturing of this vacuum cleaner. Hoover’s improvements resembled a bagpipe attached to a cake box, but they worked.
Sluggish sales were boost up by Hoover’s 10 day, free home trial, and eventually there was a Hoover® vacuum cleaner in nearly every home. The Hoover Company is still a leading manufacturer of vacuum cleaners in Great Britain. The Hoover Company opened the door for other companies like Kirby, Oreck, and Dyson.
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.
Modern vacuum cleaner are light in weight and small and compact in size and more cleaning attachments are being added to it to make it all in one cleaning unit. Let us see how it works. When vacuum cleaner is turned on, it turns on the motor that is attached to a fan. As the angled fan blades rotate, air is pushed forward in the direction of the exhaust port. For creating suction inside the vacuum cleaner, the air particles are forced ahead and the pressure behind the fan goes down. Friction carries the debris into the vacuum bag trapping the dirt and dusts. Most vacuum cleaners today have brushes to loosen up the debris and it makes them more effective and attractive also.