When we think of the vacuum cleaner, we generally bring to mind names like Hoover, Bissell and Eureka. These are the major players in the cleaning industry, helping households and businesses clean up their act everywhere. The technology of these cleaning tools involves an air pump to create a partial vacuum inside, that sucks up dirt and debris. The earliest innovation was in fact made by Melville Bissell, who designed the first vacuum in 1876 to help his wife clean sawdust out of the carpet. From there, a company was born to address the needs of other families and their homes. Bissell Carpet Sweepers were among the very first of these popular household devices we use today, run by Melville and then his widow wife Anna in the late 1800's.

The next generations of vacuum cleaners came in the early 1900's from Booth, P.A. Fisker, Walter Griffiths, David T. Kenney, and then James Spangler. Spangler who invented electric vacuum cleaners in 1907 in Ohio, incorporated a rotating brush with his design which was made from a pillowcase, box and fan. He didn't have enough money to produce these cleaners so he sold the patent to a cousin's husband. That man was W.H. Hoover, and Hoover produced the $60 "Model O", one of their first vacuums in a long line for a company still leading the pack today in sales. From there, more and more inventions have continued to roll off the production line as imaginations continue to innovate. We now have upright vacuums, dry vacs, wet vacs, bagless vacs, handheld dustbusters, electric mops, and canister vacuums. The choices are astounding and these cleaning devices have been made specifically for pet owners, those with allergies, people with hardwood flooring and other specifications.

The future seems bright for the world of vacs. One of the neatest ongoing inventions may be the cleverly designed robotic cleaning devices such as the iRobot Roomba. These sphere-shaped vacs feature random movement patterns around a specific floor surface. They can be programmed to clean for a specific amount of time and then return to a special dock station to recharge. Some even feature the ability to empty out their debris into the docking stations. Pretty soon it seems that vacuum cleaners may evolve into Jetsons like maids, with fully standing or hovering robots just doing our house cleaning for us. Until then, many of us will continue with the tried and true methods of pushing the device on our own to properly clean our floors.