How the Electric Broom Was Invented


Today we consider vacuum cleaners nothing more but a means to clean the house and we cannot possibly imagine how difficult things used to be in the past when such inventions were not in use. The man behind this very useful home appliance was called James M. Spangler; this man used to work as a janitor and as a salesman, to later become the inventor of the electric broom, or, as we call it, the vacuum cleaner.


The first vacuum cleaner in existence

Spangler suffered from severe asthma and he could not stand dust, although he had to work in an environment that was filled with it. As he observed the way a rotary sweeper worked, he thought of how to turn the device into something that could clean floors and carpets. Putting together different components, he created what should be known as the first vacuum cleaner in existence. He took his invention to work and started cleaning the Folwell Building. When his asthma became less of a problem, he must have known that he had finally found a solution to quite an old problem.

From proof of concept to patent

As a simple janitor, Spangler didn’t have the means to turn his new invention into a gadget that could be mass produced. At first, he received some financial aid to patent his invention, but while he got half a million to bring his concept to life, the money was not enough to support such a great endeavor.


The patent was bought by William Hoover (his cousin’s husband) in 1908, and the production of the electric broom finally began.

At first, people did not seem so enthusiastic about using the new gadget, but Hoover came with the idea to offer a ten day free trial and to start selling electric brooms from door to door, a model that was to be embraced by many other companies later on.