Genius Innovators

This Sucks

I am not a fan of vacuuming the floors. I am a fan of clean floors, though. A conundrum I’m sure many people face. Well, we can thank one man, H. Cecil Booth, for making it a little easier.

In the 1860s, the first vacuum cleaner patents were issued. The contraptions usually relied on some sort of bellows device that was operated by hand. Try rubbing your tummy and patting your head. Good, now try pushing a vacuum cleaner around while cranking the bellows.

In 1901, H. Cecil Booth invented the first motorized vacuum cleaning system. After seeing a demonstration of John Thurman’s system, which relied on blowing the dirt into a receptacle, Booth thought that suction would be more efficient. And he was right.

Mounted on a horse drawn van, his vacuum cleaner would roll up to your door where a red-clad operator would hop off, start up the oil-fired engine that ran the piston pump and run suction hoses into your house. The British Vacuum Cleaner Company would be come renowned around jolly ol’ England and would win the contract for vacuuming the carpet in Westminster Abbey for Edward VII’s coronation in 1901.

Once competition for small, home use vacuum cleaners grew to the point that Booth couldn’t go head to head with them anymore, he turned his attention to large central vacuum systems for factories or warehouses. His company still lives on today as BVC.

So, the next time you drag out your Eureka, Dyson or Orick XL, just remember it could be worse. Then say a little thanks to H. Cecil Booth.

[Image Credit:]

  • tonyola

    I've seen a few houses that have central vacuum systems. Simply plug a hose into a receptacle in the wall and the central unit switches on. Nothing to lug around or push.

    • P161911

      The two houses I grew up in both had those. So does my wife's old house, which we now have as a rental property. They don't work that well. They usually end up clogged up and not working. Also a regular upright vacuum is easier to use than a 15-20' long hose. I think they were the in thing for a while in the 1970s.

      • Mr_Biggles

        I actually thought most newer houses were built with them (I've never lived in a "newer" house). Many of my friends had them in houses that were built in the 70's or 80's or newer. I've always equated them with large pop-up style subdivisions. Maybe they're more trouble than they're worth.

        • P161911

          For regular house cleaning they do seem to be more trouble than they are worth to me. Also, they seem to lack the suction and cleaning ability of a decent upright carpet vac.
          The three houses that I have personal experience with these things in were all built in the 1970s. Half the people that I have shown the rental house to have no idea what a central vac system even is.
          I could see where a central shop vac system would be great if you did a lot of wood working and wanted to hook up to multiple dust collectors on different saws.

          • Welcome to the Century Club! The scotch is at the bar, the hookers are in the ice chest, and you'll find the access code to the porn tattooed on your right forearm.

            Oh, and don't kick the guy passed out in the corner. Mitch had a bad night last night.

          • P161911

            And I was just hoping for free cookies. Only two more to reach AWESOME.

        • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

          You are not missing much. My parents had this in their house when I was a kid. It did not work well. Now they use three vacuum cleaners, one they keep on each floor. The problem is that central vacuums lack "the thwacker" or if they have one, it's worthless. If you look at the bottom of an upright vacuum cleaner there is this helical brush. It hits the carpet as you vacuum. This makes the dirt come up so the suction can do it's thing. It's like when you take a rug outside and hit it with a stick. Anyway, maybe there are some more modern systems where there is electricity in the hose connection as well, but a friend of mine had a central vacuum system with a thwacker. It did not have an electrical connection, if you took a little cover off there was what looked like a little blower at the bottom and a belt that ran to the thwacker. The suction from the vacuum was supposed to spin that. And right after you cleaned it out (the reason for the cover) it did. But if you touched it it stopped turning, it was not very powerful, and quickly dirt would get in there and clog it up, so it completely stopped turning soon. I've been using dirt devils since I moved out on my own.

    • Number_Six

      Central vac rocks: I can attest to this from my experience doing chores for my folks in the '80s. Even makes cleaning the car in the garage that much easier.

  • tiberiusẅisë

    Sorry to be the turd in the punch bowl but I'm quite sure the device for cleaning carpets was invented by Professor Caractacus Potts.

    <img src="; width="400">

    image, sadly not including said device, courtesy of online-inquirer.

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