A brief history of… the vacuum cleaner

The humble vacuum cleaner may not be the most glamorous product ever invented, but it is an essential cleaning tool and everyone now owns one.

Contrary to what you might expect, it was not William Henry Hoover, the brand name that has become synonymous with vacuum cleaners, that invented the technology, but an English man called Hubert Cecil Booth who launched the British Vacuum Cleaner Company in 1901. Hoover’s company followed shortly after and ended up becoming the market leader.

Early motorised vacuum cleaners were so big that they were drawn by horse and carriage, making them highly impractical. The first portable vacuum cleaners, were invented by Walter Griffiths in 1905 and bear a much closer resemblance to the machines we use today.

Up until the 50s however, vacuum cleaners were considered a luxury item reserved for the rich, but after the second world war, vacuum cleaners, along with a whole host of other household goods started to reach the mainstream.

In more recent years, vacuum cleaners have undergone a bit of a revolution. James Dyson basically reinvented the vacuum cleaner with his bag-less designs and famous no loss of suction promise. More recently still, the development of battery technology has led to a rise in the popularity of cordless vacuum cleaners.

So what’s next for the vacuum cleaner? Robot cleaners are already on the market, and although their performance is questionable at the moment, it is doubtless that some form of automated vacuum cleaner will emerge in the future.


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