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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » October 22, 2008
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Sucking Up Everything in Its Path
October 22, 2008   
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For centuries, the main tool used for cleaning dirt from floors was the broom. The first step in the mechanization of cleaning was an American invention in 1869. Manned by two people working a bellows, it was the ancestor of our modern vacuum cleaners. Only instead of sucking in dirt, it would blow it off the surfaces to be cleaned. The story of how the vacuum cleaner came into being is told by an exhibition in Warsaw's Technology Museum.

A breakthrough came in 1901, when Englishman Hubert Booth built the first engine-powered cleaning machine, which first used a combustion engine and then an electric one. The four-wheeled monster came with 200-meter long tubes which were inserted through windows or doors and allowed houses and apartments to be cleaned.

Word of Booth's commercial and popular success crossed the ocean and in 1905 a 42-kilogram electrical vacuum cleaner was built in California, followed two years later by a more portable version. Mass production was the final step allowing such devices to conquer America. Despite numerous technical innovations in later decades, the basic principle has remained unchanged to this day.


Technology Museum, Palace of Culture and Science, 1 Defilad Sq., Warsaw, tel. (22) 656 67 59, Tue.-Fri. 8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Closed on Mon.
Entrance: zl.10, zl.5 concessions.
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