Vacuum Cleaner History: when was the Vacuum Invented?

vacuum cleaner timeline
Vacuum Cleaner evolution timeline illustration. © Tigchelaar

The vacuum cleaner has completely changed the way of cleaning. It took a lot of developments to arrive at the vacuum cleaner as we know it today. For example, did you know that one of the first vacuum cleaners was a machine pulled down the street by horses?

I have researched the vacuum cleaner evolution from the first developments to the present. View the complete vacuum cleaner timeline.

First vacuum cleaner developments

In 1860, equipment to clean carpets was tested for the first time. Daniel Hess from Iowa (U.S.A) developed the Carpet Sweeper1Carpet Sweeper, Wikipedia.org. The device had to be operated by two people and was very heavy and bulky. Partly because of this, this ‘first vacuum cleaner’ never led to mass production.

A little later, in 1869, a machine was developed that came close to a vacuum cleaner. The device had to be turned on while vacuuming, which created a suction force. The so-called ‘Whirldwind’ – developed by Ives W. McGaffey – was still a very large machine.

In 1876, Melville R. Bissell, along with his wife, developed the Grand Rapids. The device worked with a rotary mechanism to suck up dirt. Bissell still exists and is one of the oldest American vacuum cleaners.

In 1898 John S. Thurman developed a device that does not suck, but blows. The dirt was blown out of the carpet and then collected in a reservoir. This ‘dust blower’ was called the Pneumatic Carpet Renovator2Pneumatic Carpet Renovator Patent, Patents.Google.com.

The Booth Machine: first powered vacuum cleaner

In 1901 the first powered vacuum cleaner was developed. This ‘The Booth Machine’ is described by many as the first vacuum cleaner ever made. The vacuum cleaner, invented by Hubert Cecil Booth who founded the British Vacuum Cleaner3Hubert Cecil Booth, Gracesguide.co.uk, was drawn down the street by horses. The machine was equipped with long vacuum cleaner hoses that were led through the windows of houses. The side of the machine was equipped with a transparent plate, so that people could see how much dirt was collected.

In 1901, the first vacuum cleaner with a motor was developed. This ‘The Booth Machine’ is described by many as the first vacuum cleaner ever made.

In 1905, Walter Griffiths developed a somewhat more compact vacuum cleaner that could be operated by one person. The vacuum cleaner with the name ‘Griffith’s Improved Vacuum Apparatus for Removing Dust from Carpets’ worked with a pump technique. By pumping, a vacuum was created, through which dirt could be sucked in.

Later, in Later, in 1906 it was time again for a special vacuum cleaner development. James B. Kirby developed a vacuum cleaner that could collect dirt using water: the Domestic Cyclone.it was time again for a special vacuum cleaner development. James B. Kirby developed a vacuum cleaner that could collect dirt using water: the Domestic Cyclone.

Hoover: first compact vacuum cleaner with a motor

In 1908, the first compact vacuum cleaner powered by a motor was developed. James Murry Spangler, an asthmatic man, sold his idea to Mr. William Henry Hoover who founded the Hoover Suction Company. This first Hoover was the ‘Hoover Model O’. Because around that time there was still a lot of mistrust about the operation of vacuum cleaners, door-to-door demonstrations were given.

Because around that time there was still a lot of mistrust about the operation of vacuum cleaners, door-to-door demonstrations were given.

At that time, Hoover dominated the world of vacuum cleaners. In fact, Hoover started to become a synonym for the word vacuum cleaner and people even talked about ‘hoovering the carpet‘, when people started vacuuming the carpet.

A year later in 1909, Fred Wardell founded the Eureka Vacuum Company4About Eureka, Eureka.com. The company, which is still active today, first started selling vacuum cleaners. In 1913 Eureka also started to produce vacuum cleaners itself.

In the meantime, around 1910, the vacuum cleaner was also launched in Europe. The Danish company Fisker and Nielsen Company (nowadays Nilfisk) sold the first vacuum cleaner there: the C1 model, which weighed 17.5 kilograms for the time being.

Disposable vacuum cleaner bags

In 1920, disposable vacuum cleaner bags were used for the first time. These were developed by Air-Way Sanitizer. A year later, in 1921, Electrolux launched its first vacuum cleaner: the Electrolux Model V5Electrolux Goes Global with First Mobile Vacuum Cleaner, Electroluxgroup.com. This was actually the first canister vacuum cleaner as we know it today. However, it was not yet equipped with wheels, but two iron strips to slide it over the ground.

The first Kirby vacuum cleaner was launched in 1935: the Kirby Model C. The Vacuette was also developed, a vacuum cleaner that worked with a spring. By moving the vacuum cleaner back and forth, a suction force was created.

From this moment on, vacuum cleaner developments have come to a standstill around the Second World War. This is because carpets and the machines themselves were very expensive. In the meantime, carpets were cleaned by hanging them outside and beating them.

First handheld vacuum: the”DustBuster”

In 1979, the first cordless handheld vacuum cleaner is launched: the Black & Decker DustBuster. One million copies sold in the first year alone6Black & Decker “DustBuster” Handheld Vacuum, TheHenryFord.org. It will continue to be a great success. New DustBuster models are still being released to this day. For example, we recently tested the Black+Decker DustBuster Flexi.

black+decker dustbuster flexi review
Black+Decker Dustbuster models are still being launched. © Vacuumtester.com

First bagless vacuum cleaner

After 5 years and 127 prototypes, James Dyson developed the first bagless vacuum cleaner in 1993: the Dyson DC01. It is already clear from the first model that Dysons use of color is an important part of the design.

dyson with a yellow color
The Dyson DC01 would form the basis for many Dyson vacuum cleaners that followed. © Vacuumtester.com

First robot vacuum cleaner

In 1996, the first robot vacuum cleaner was launched: the Elextrolux Trilobite. The robot vacuum cleaner was equipped with a display. The Electrolux Tribolite was the first vacuum cleaner to work automatically and would be the first of many smart vacuum cleaners to follow.

For example, the first Roomba vacuum cleaner was launched in 2002, which today is the market leader in robot vacuum cleaners.

Vacuum cleaners with laser technology

Dyson will launch the first vacuum cleaner with laser technology in 2021: the Dyson V15 Detect. Thanks to a built-in laser in the floor brush, dirt on the floor is more detectable. From that moment on, more vacuum cleaner brands start experimenting with laser lighting.

dyson v15 detect review
The first vacuum cleaner with laser technology. © Vacuumtester.com

Vacuum cleaner evolution timeline (chronological)

In the overview below you will discover the complete time of the vacuum cleaner developments.

YearInventionInventor
1860Carpet SweeperDaniel Hess
1869Whirlwind launchedIves Mc.Gaffey
1876Grand RapidsMelville R. Bissell
1898Pneumatic Carpet RenovatorJohn S. Thurman
1901The Booth Machine (first motorized vacuum cleaner)Hubert Cecil Booth
1905Griffith’s Improved Vacuum Apparatus for Removing Dust from CarpetsWalter Griffith
1906Domestic Cyclone (vacuum cleaner with water)James B. Kirby
1908Hoover Model OJames Murray Spangler
1909Establishment of Eureka Vacuum CompanyFred Wardell
1910Fisker and Nielsen Company C1 (first consumer vacuum cleaner)Fisker & Nielsen Company
1920Disposable vacuum cleaner bagsAir-Way Sanitizer
1921Electrolux Model V (first canister vacuum cleaner)Electrolux
1935Kirby Model C / VacuetteKirby
1979Black & Decker DustBuster (first handheld vacuum cleaner)Black & Decker
1993Dyson DC01 (first Dyson vacuum cleaner)James Dyson
1996Electrolux Trilobite (first robot vacuum cleaner)Electrolux
2021Dyson with laser technologyJames Dyson
© Vacuumtester.com

Vacuumtester.com keeps the overview up to date and supplements it with groundbreaking vacuum cleaner developments. Follow the latest vacuum cleaner news here.

Vacuum cleaner invention FAQ

When was the vacuum cleaner invented?

The first vacuum cleaner is the Carpet Sweeper invented in 1860. The first powered vacuum cleaner was The Booth Machine in 1901.

Who invented the first vacuum cleaner?

The Carpet Sweeper was invented in 1860 by Daniel Hess from Iowa (America). The first powered vacuum cleaner was invented by Hubert Cecil Booth (England).

What are Dyson inventions?

James Dyson has several vacuum cleaner inventions to his credit. In 1993, Dyson developed the first bagless vacuum cleaner (the Dyson DC01). In 2021, Dyson launched the first vacuum cleaner with laser technology.

Who invented the Hoover vacuum cleaner?

James Murry Spangler is actually the inventor of the very first Hoover vacuum cleaner. He sold his idea to Mr. William Henry Hoover who bought the patents and launched the Hoover Model-O.

When was the Roomba invented?

The first Roomba was invented in 2002. It was not the first robot vacuum cleaner in the world: it was launched by Electrolux in 1996, the Electrolux Trilobite.

References

Robbert Tigchelaar

Robbert Tigchelaar

Robbert Tigchelaar is the founder of Vacuumtester.com and is a true vacuum cleaner guru. With more than 10 years of experience in the world of electronic devices, he knows better than anyone what is important in a vacuum cleaner. When a new vacuum cleaner appears, he is eager to test it extensively.

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