Google honors English engineer Hubert Cecil Booth on his 147th birthday with a special Doodle. Born in Gloucester in 1871, he is best known for the invention of the vacuum cleaner.
Booth started the British Vacuum Cleaner Company in 1903, and his flagship product—a somewhat smaller electric device that arrived in a bright red van and was operated by experts in BVCC uniforms—was soon embraced by fashionable households and even the British royal family. Watching the Puffing Billy suck dust out the window of your home became a fun afternoon activity, lending housework a certain social cachet.
“After seeing a demonstration of the “pneumatic carpet renovator” blowing dirt out of railway cars, Booth tried an experiment. Laying his handkerchief on a restaurant chair, he put his mouth on the tablecloth and sucked air through it. Inspired by the results he set to work on his 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,” a Google release read.
Booth 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.
Though it was a far cry from the upright and handheld vacuums we 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.