The Man Who Almost Invented The Vacuum Cleaner
The man officially credited with inventing the vacuum cleaner is
Hubert Cecil Booth. However, he got the idea from a man who almost
In 1901 Booth visited a London music-hall. On the bill was an
American inventor with his wonder machine for removing dust from carpets.
The machine comprised a box about one foot square with a bag on top.
After watching the act -- which made everyone in the front six rows sneeze
-- Booth went round to the inventor's dressing room.
"It should suck not blow," said Booth, coming straight to the
point. "Suck?", exclaimed the enraged inventor. "Your machine just moves
the dust around the room," Booth informed him. "Suck? Suck? Sucking is
not possible," was the inventor's reply and he stormed out. Booth proved
that it was by the simple expedient of kneeling down, pursing his lips and
sucking the back of an armchair. "I almost choked," he said afterwards.
-- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"