25 Greatest Inventions of the 20th Century: Vacuum cleaners

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Welcome to our countdown of the 20th century’s top inventions, where we look at some of the things we take for granted and show how they changed the world. We start in 1901, when a horse-drawn cart appeared on a London street. Workers carried hoses from the cart into a house to suck dust from the carpet into a container. Invented by Hubert Booth, it was the world’s first suction vacuum cleaner. But his machine wasn’t portable, so the race began to invent vacuums for households. The first electric vacuum cleaner for home use was invented in 1907 by James Spangler of Ohio, who sold the design to businessman William Hoover. The vacuums became so popular that “hoover” is now a verb meaning “to vacuum.” The worldwide vacuum cleaner market is now worth billions of dollars and still growing. And buyers face a dizzying choice. Do you buy a Dyson? They’re very powerful and don’t need bags. Do you get a handheld for those hard-to-reach areas, including inside cars, or for cleaning sudden spills? If you own your own home, you might install a central vacuum. Then you simply plug a hose straight into a wall socket, and the suction comes from an engine in a different part of your home. It’s expensive but better for allergy sufferers. Or maybe you get the latest innovation: robot vacuum cleaners that clean carpets and floors on their own. Vacuum cleaners have come a long way since Booth’s time, but over the years, they’ve helped make housework cleaning a whole lot easier. (T) This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

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