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Before doing this research little did I know about the rich history of the vacuum cleaner that started all the way back in the 1858 when Hiram H. Herrick invented the first carpet sweeper.

It was patented but wasn’t much of a success because it was hard to use with so many moving parts. Different types of sweepers where also invented by imaginative individuals invented and subsequently patented their own versions of carpet sweepers in the late 1800s.

In 1876 Melvin Bissell invented a push powered sweeper that he called the Grand Rapids. He would later establish the Bissell Company. Unfortunately he passed away and his wife, Anna Bissell took over and became America’s first female CEO.

It wasn’t until 1898 when John Thurman invented what a lot of historians consider the first motorized cleaner but it didn’t suck in dirt but used compressed air to blow dirt away.

In 1901, Hubert Cecil Booth, invented the first machine that used suction, later he would call his invention the vacuum cleaner. Many historians believed he was the first to coin the term.

During the same period David T. Kenney invented an “apparatus for removing dust”, however his patent wouldn’t be granted until 1907. He had 9 other patents in the next decade or so and was considered by many to be the father of the American vacuum industry.

In 1906 Jim Kirby invented a machine that used water and cloth as a filtration system (water filtration is still in use by some manufacturers today namely Rainbow). This paved the way to the establishment of the Kirby brand.

In 1909 the Eureka vacuum company was founded by Detroit businessman David Wardell. He was one of the first manufacturers to produce lightweight and portable cleaners.

In 1910, the first vacuum cleaner that used AC or DC electrical power which paved the way for future plugin appliances.

In 1926, Hoover introduced positive agitation to the market that improved efficiency in cleaning carpet. This positive agitation in modern terms is called the beater bar which is found in most vacuums today.

In 1950, the first upright vacuum was introduced to the market.

In 1963, David Oreck established the Oreck Company that catered to the hotel industry.

In 1978, James Dyson introduced the first bag-less vacuum in the market after more than 5,000 tries. He later would establish his company Dyson after no one would take on his invention because bagged vacuums dominated the market during that era.

In 1979, Black & Decker introduced the first cordless vacuum in the market and it was a hit, selling over 100 million units.

In 1997, the first robot vacuum was introduced to the market by Swedish Manufacturer, Electrolux in BBC’s Tomorrow’s World. Nope it wasn’t iRobot or Neato.

In 2011, British inventor Jake Tyler develops the world’s first vacuum cleaner made from cardboard.

These are just some of the highlights of this product’s rich history and the brilliant minds behind it. To get a full view of the history have a look at the infographic below.

Neato vs Roomba Infographic

Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
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