chapter  V
13 Pages


After years of hauling carpets and rugs to the clothes-line for beating, the homeowner prized the carpet sweeper, which revolutionized fiber cleaning by applying the rotating brush technology of street sweepers to napped floor coverings. The English inventor Jane Hume patented a forerunner of the vacuum system in 1811. A wheeled box maneuvered by a handle, it contained a pulley-operated brush that swept crumbs into the container. Advanced in the mid-nineteenth century, the bellows system of drawing air through a closed container produced a balky, cumbrous machine requiring two people-a bellows operator and a floor cleaner. Ives M. McGaffey, a Chicago inventor, created the first suction, fan-driven floor cleaner, a hand-cranked model he called the Whirlwind.