Centuries ago, homeowners had a problem: their rugs were getting sunburned. The only way to clean a rug back then was to take it out in the yard and beat it, and the exposure to the elements caused fading and damage. This was especially tough in Denver, where the climate is uniquely sunny—on average, the city gets 300 days of sun a year—and prone to sudden weather changes. Below, we chart the slow but steady evolution of vacuum-cleaner technology, which has made modern Denver carpet cleaning an SPF-optional process.Mid-1800s: The first vacuum cleaner, technically a carpet sweeper, uses bellows to produce suction.1901: British inventor Hubert Cecil Booth patents a suction cleaner that could filter air and trap dust, but its internal combustion engine was so large it had to sit on a horse-drawn wagon—hardly a way to make chores easier.1907: Night janitor James Murray Spangler sells the first viable handheld vacuum to a businessman named Hoover. Spangler originally created the rude assembly—electric motor, tin soapbox, fan, pillowcase, and broom handle—because, with his crippling asthma, he needed a way to trap the squalls of dust that erupted whenever he swept the carpet.1908: Without the funds to make his invention a success, Spangler sells his design to leather merchant William Hoover. Hoover replaces the tin soapbox with a sleek steel casing, adds wheels for maneuverability, and gains eternal fame: today in England, the word “hoover” is synonymous with “vacuum.”Today: As Denver cleaning services can attest, cleaning a carpet today rarely causes a sunburn, much less undue stress. Thanks to innovations from Hoover and his competitors, it doesn’t take much more than plugging in a vacuum cleaner and flipping the switch. In the modern vacuum’s most basic design, a rotating brush sweeps debris from the floor as an electric fan forces air through the intake port and out through a filtered exhaust port, trapping the debris inside a bag. Tomorrow: Vacuum cleaners’ continued evolution could result in anything from more bagless canisters to automatic robots that leave us free to spend more time building sandcastles on the carpet.
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