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Airway Vacuum Cleaners
The invention of the vacuum cleaner came about because of scientific and technological advances made as a result of the Industrial Revolution. The effects of the Civil War and ensuing changes throughout America made clear the need for efficiency in housekeeping and the role of the housewife. No longer was it standard fare to have servants to do the tedious chores of cleaning, dusting, polishing, washing, etc. It was a period in history when inventions of machinery would replace, for a time, the need for maids and hired help.
A look at the patent history reveals the first carpet sweeper to have been designed by Daniel Hess in 1860. Though it did not use the “vacuum” ideology, it had rotating brushes and a device atop the body which generated suction. It also incorporated water chambers to capture dust. However, this machine was never produced.
The first vacuum cleaner to go into production was in the late 1800s and was so large it required two people to operate it. The dust was not captured, but blew back out into the air. Many housewives chose the broom and dust pan over this monstrosity which required more dusting.
Ten years later, the machine invented by Melville Bissell was the first to deposit the dirt it picked up inside the vacuum. But it was not a deep cleaning machine, as it only captured the top layer of dirt in the rugs found throughout homes of that era.
There were later inventions of gas-powered sweepers, and finally, the motorized vacuum cleaner was invented by John Thurman. This was also the beginning of in-home cleaning services, as he went door-to-door to offer his services of vacuuming both hard flooring and rugs. From there, the known names in vacuum cleaners today, such as Kirby, Electrolux, and Hoover emerged.
In 1920, Airway, in Toledo, Ohio, introduced the first-ever vacuum cleaner with a disposable bag. Their initial model was called the Sanitizor and it had attachments and outperformed the current Hoover with its cloth bag. The initial model underwent modifications in Model 55A, in 1946 to 1950.
Ensuing Airway vacuum cleaner models included the Sanitizer DVC, which expelled a room deodorant while using it, and claimed to guard against bacterial growth and to prevent mold, mildew, and fungi. The Sanitizor continued with modifications in Models 66 and 77c between 1950 and 1958.
In 1992, the Sanitizer 88 Mark II changed the original upright, all-in-one look to a sweeper which extended from the base, attached to the base as a wand and vacuum head, and came in colors of turquoise and yellow. Although it was still quite noisy as compared to modern vacuum cleaners, it did a fantastic job of deep cleaning and the base was both upright and horizontal, making it easy to roll through the house and up staircases. This particular model evolved until Model 88 Mark V, which included several hard flooring discs with pads and three extensions which allowed for cleaning and dusting of hard-to-reach and high places. The floor head, connected to the newly-designed base, was more like the carpet/floor attachment heads known today. It added a wider base and additional attachments needed to use the vacuum cleaner as the all-in-one duster, cleaner for the entire household.
Unfortunately, this company discontinued production of Airway vacuum cleaners shortly thereafter. Fortunately, parts and supplies for this model still abound on the internet and in vacuum shops throughout America.
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