We can always count on one thing: things will change over time. This will happen no matter what. People change, technologies change, and so do situations.

Change is a given! Think about what you’ve done in your own life. How much has changed, really? Especially when it comes to technological progress. When you look back, it can be scary to see how much has changed. But it can also feel really good! Take this “thing” for example; we bet you won’t know what it is…

We bet you won’t know what this is.
If you weren’t alive in the 1930s, you probably won’t know what this is. If you do, well done! Looks a little strange? Is it not? Do you have any idea what this thing might be?

Could you figure it out?
You wouldn’t be the only one who doesn’t know what this thing is. But we think you really want to know! This strange-looking thing, which looks like a flask or some kind of carrier, is actually a vacuum cleaner from the 1930s called the Hercules! This old vacuum is very different from the ones we have now. In fact, as I type this, I’m watching my Roomba® clean my floor. Can you picture what life must have been like back then? How exciting and new this kind of machine was at the time! And yet, we all take for granted how much technology and progress have made our lives easier.

Back in the day, the Hercules vacuum cleaner was a very stylish and high-tech machine. The one in the picture was made of crocodile skin, which made it quite expensive. It was sold during the Great Depression, when many families couldn’t even pay their bills, let alone buy a Hercules. If you knew what it was, try showing your kids and see if they can guess. They won’t know what this is at all!

How the vacuum cleaner came to be
Did you know that the simple broom wasn’t even finished until 1797? After seeing his wife struggle to sweep, a farmer from Massachusetts decided to make one that really worked. Soon, everyone knew about his broom, which was called “broomcorn.” People naturally got lazier as time went on. Daniel Hess made the first real vacuum cleaner in the 1860s. Before that, there were a few new sweepers and brooms that came and went. His patent says, “The idea behind my invention is to use a draft of air to pull fine dust and dirt through the machine.”

Ives McGaffey of Chicago went even further in 1869. Even so, his design was harder to use than a normal broom. His patent says, “All good housekeepers find it very annoying when dust and dirt build up in their homes. The goal of my invention is to get rid of these problems.” Unfortunately, his idea didn’t catch on.

Many styles have come and gone. But James Murray Spangler was the one who changed everything about the vacuum cleaner. James, a 60-year-old janitor in Canton, Ohio, worked hard to make his design the best it could be. Even his health suffered because of it. His machine was better than the others because it was upright and could be moved around. The simple machine worked well. It sucked up dirt and blew it out the back into the pillowcase that was attached. In 1907, Spangler got a patent for it, quit his job, and started the Electric Suction Sweeper Company.

“A ceiling fan motor and paddle blades made the air flow. He used a leather belt and tied it to a rotating brush from a carpet sweeper. No one else could get the carpet that clean because they didn’t have a motor-driven brush.”

When he got into financial trouble and had to sell his company to his cousin, Susan Hoover, The Hoover was born.