New Delhi: To celebrate the invention of a powered vacuum cleaner by Hubert Cecil Booth more than a century ago, Google on Wednesday marked the British engineer’s 147th birth anniversary with an interactive Doodle. The Doodle depicts an operator cleaning a carpet using Booth’s first design, nicknamed “Puffing Billy”, which was powered by an engine so big it had to be pulled around by horses and parked outside the house to be cleaned.
Though it was a far cry from the upright and handheld vacuums people use today, Booth’s invention forever changed the way we clean our homes — and made sweeping dirt under the rug a thing of the past, Google said in a statement. At the break of the 20th century, cutting-edge floor-cleaning technology involved blowing air and pushing debris, but Booth was intrigued by the inverse idea — cleaning by suction.
After seeing a demonstration of the “pneumatic carpet renovator” blowing dirt out of railway cars, the Gloucester-native tested his own idea. To see how much dust he could remove by suction, the British engineer put his handkerchief to his mouth and sucked the air through it. Inspired by the results he set to work on his first design — the Puffing Billy.
Booth started the British Vacuum Cleaner Company in 1903, and his flagship product – a somewhat smaller electric device – was soon embraced by fashionable households and even the British royal family. Booth’s contributions were not limited to changing the cleaning process only. He was a man of many talents who built bridges, designed engines for Royal Navy battleships, and ferris wheels in England, France, and Austria.
But the Puffing Billy assured that his legacy would live on. Booth breathed his last on January 14, 1955.