The Vacuum Cleaner

A History


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About the Book

House cleaning has been an innate human activity forever but only since the early 19th century have mechanical devices replaced the physical labor (performed mostly by women). Mechanical carpet sweepers were replaced by manual suction cleaners, which in turn were replaced by electric vacuum cleaners in the early 20th century. Innovative inventors, who improved vacuum cleaners as electricity became commonly available, made these advances possible. Many early manufacturers failed, but some, such as Bissell, Hoover, Eureka and others, became household names as they competed for global dominance with improved features, performance and appearance. This book describes the fascinating people who made this possible, as well as the economic, cultural and technological contexts of their times. From obscure beginnings 200 years ago, vacuum cleaners have become an integral part of modern household culture.

About the Author(s)

Carroll Gantz is a professional industrial designer who holds several dozen patents. A long-time Black & Decker design director, and a Carnegie Mellon University professor, he is a past president of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). He lives on Seabrook Island in South Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Carroll Gantz
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 104 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6552-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9321-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      viii

Preface      1

Introduction      3

1. Before Vacuum      5

2. Suction Cleaners After 1860      34

3. Electrics 1900–1920      59

4. Consolidation 1920–1940      86

5. Postwar 1940–1970      119

6. Globalization 1970–1990      150

7. 1990 to the Present      176

Postscript      207

Notes      208

Bibliography      217

Index      222

Book Reviews & Awards

“intriguing…very much recommended”—Midwest Book Review.