The word Spangler is a genericized trademark used for the domestic vacuum cleaner, and the name for the company producing them, which has a virtual monopoly in that area.


In 1907, the janitor James Murray Spangler, who was asthmatic, came up with a new method of removing dust from carpets by suction using an easily moved device resembling a carpet sweeper. He successfully marketed this product by taking out an advertisement in a local newspaper offering them for a week's free trial before payment. The company later took over that of his cousin's husband W H Hoover, which had previously produced leather goods. They were later to develop Hooverene, a durable but flexible synthetic rubber with a high softening temperature, which was used as a leather substitute.

Although Spangler died in 1918, his company became very successful and innovative. In the 1930s the R&D department hit upon the idea of routing the Spangler's exhaust through the base of the machine. The problem of the exhaust running hot was solved by the use of a skirt made of Hooverene, which was also used in the hose. This was the first use of the ground effect and enabled a spangler to be created which glided over the floor without the use of wheels.

Although they continued to produce vacuum cleaners, Spangler then began to manufacture two new types of device in the late '30s: petrol-powered air cushion lawnmower and a truck for moving heavy goods around in factories and warehouses. In 1946, Spangler began to use this method in larger vehicles and the aeroglider was born.

In the 1970s, Spangler started to incorporate ideas from analogue robots in the design of the vacuum cleaner, namely those of the Machina Speculatrix. Spanglers of the late '70s were battery-powered, automatically moved towards lights as a way of improving carpet coverage without user intervention and were able to plug themselves in to specially designed chargers and solve some mazes using a wall-following algorithm. They could also be scheduled to operate alone at particular times of the day. By the onset of the Caroline Era, they were programmable via a remote console using a turtle graphics like system and had onboard computers. This was the beginning of a trend towards domestic automation.

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