Hoover, William Henry

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b. 1849 New Berlin (now North Canton), Ohio, USA
d. 25 February 1932 North Canton, Ohio, USA
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American founder of the Electric Suction Company, which manufactured and successfully marketed the first practical and portable suction vacuum cleaner.
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Hoover was descended from a Swiss farming family called Hofer who emigrated from Basle and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in the early eighteenth century. By 1832 the family had become tanners and lived near North Berlin in Ohio. In 1870 William Henry Hoover, who had studied at Mount Union College, bought the tannery with his brothers and soon expanded the business to make horse collars and saddlery. The firm expanded to become W.H.Hoover \& Co. In the early years of the first decade of the twentieth century, horses were beginning to be replaced by the internal combustion engine, so Hoover needed a new direction for his firm. This he found in the suction vacuum cleaner devised in 1907 by J.Murray Spangler, a cousin of Hoover's wife. The first successful cleaner of this type had been operating in England since 1901 (see Booth), but was not a portable model. Attracted by the development of the small electric motor, Spangler produced a vertical cleaner with such a motor that sucked the dust through the machine and blew it into a bag attached to the handle. Spangler applied for a patent for his invention on 14 September in the same year; it was granted for a carpet sweeper and cleaner on 2 June 1908, but Spangler was unable to market it himself and sold the rights to Hoover. The Model O machine, which ran on small wheels, was immediately manufactured and marketed. Hoover's model was the first electric, one-person-operated, domestic vacuum cleaner and was instantly successful, although the main expansion of the business was delayed for some time until the greater proportion of houses were wired for electricity. The Hoover slogan, "it beats as it sweeps as it cleans", came to be true in 1926 with the introduction of the Model 700, which was the first cleaner to offer triple-action cleaning, a process which beat, swept and sucked at the carpet. Further advances in the 1930s included the use of magnesium and the early plastics.
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Further Reading
G.Adamson, 1969, Machines at Home, Lutterworth Press.
How it Works: The Universal Encyclopaedia of Machines, Paladin. D.Yarwood, 1981, The British Kitchen, Batsford, Ch. 6.
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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