​Almanac: The vacuum cleaner

On Aug. 30, 1901, British inventor Hubert Cecil Booth cleaned up with his patent for a giant, horse-drawn suction machine.


And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: August 30th, 1901, 114 years ago today ... the day a British inventor truly cleaned up.

Hubert Cecil Booth's huge horse-drawn vacuum swept earlier cleaning machines aside by perfecting the use of suction to remove a carpet's grit and grime.

Smaller vacuum cleaners soon followed, as did competitive manufacturers ... each making its own distinct claim, as in this British TV ad from the 1950s:

"It floats! The Hoover Constellation floats on air! Floats on its own cushion of air! Floats with you through housework! Yes, the Hoover Constellation floats, it doesn't just slide!"

And the full stable of vacuum cleaners through the ages was on view when our own Bill Geist dropped in on the 15th annual convention of the Vacuum Cleaner Collectors Club back in 2002.

"It's a clean hobby," one woman remarked.

Club president Charlie Watrous assured Geist that, contrary to what others might think, vacuum cleaner collectors are just normal, everyday people:

"We have everyone from doctors, executives, secretaries, airline personnel, beauticians, we have everything," Watrous said.

And they all shared a fascination with the technology ("The mechanics of how the vacuum works, the fan going around, the brush roll going around, the belt!") that would have made Hubert Cecil Booth proud:

After several rounds of competitive vacuuming, the collectors raised their voices in song.

So much for that old saying that "Nature abhors a vacuum."