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Discover what made the future: Hoover

Hoover, often used to describe vacuum cleaners in general, is a vacuum cleaner company that dominated the world of household cleaning.

James Murray Spangler had an asthma problem which he believed stemmed from the use of the traditional carpet broom. This ailment resulted in Spangler ingeniously creating a suction sweeper by combining a fan, a traditional broom, and a soapbox to make the first vacuum cleaner.

Spangler spent time perfecting his design and eventually got it patented. The production line turned into a family affair with each child taking on a role in the assembly line. Even so, only three could be made per week. He gave one of his inventions to his cousin Susan who used it at home. Susan’s husband, William Henry “Boss” Hoover, was a leather goods manufacturer but saw the potential, bought the patent from Spangler and set up shop as a vacuum producer. Spangler remained on as a production supervisor and continued to contribute to many patents for the Electric Suction Sweeper Company, later, Hoover Suction Sweeper Company.

A young Industrial designer, Henry Dreyfuss, now well-known in design circles, was hired to revamp the Hoover line. His job was to take the common black motor and aluminium base design and turn it into something attractive. The ‘Hedlite’, a particularly unattractive machine, was his first project. Dreyfuss housed the outer motor in the cover which instantly improved the appearance. In 1935 Dreyfuss was called upon to do a complete redesign which resulted in the Model 150, concealing all mechanical working parts for the first time in a tear-drop style cover.

In 1992 the UK division of Hoover announced the ‘Hoover free flights promotion’ which would go down as one of the worst promotions in history. The US and UK companies split in 1993 after the horrendous promotion wrecked the company.

The Hoover Dustette was the first handheld vacuum cleaner and testament to their supreme durability many are still used today, 80 years later.

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