New Delhi: Google on Wednesday paid homage to Hubert Cecil Booth, the man who is credited with the invention of the vacuum cleaner, designing of the Ferris wheel and suspension bridges, with a quirky doodle on the British engineer’s 147th birth anniversary.

The illustration eloquently captures the essence of the “Puffing Billy," the first vacuum cleaner created by Booth, which was a horse drawn machine, and was fuelled by petrol. The innovative suction mechanism of the invention is also highlighted in the doodle. In 1901, cutting-edge floor-cleaning technology involved blowing air and pushing debris.

Booth was intrigued by the inverse idea: cleaning by suction. 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 table cloth 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, according to a Google blog.

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.

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 hand-held vacuums we use today, Booth’s invention changed the way we clean our homes, and made sweeping dirt under the rug a thing of the past.

The silhouette of Booth’s Ferris wheel is can be seen in the backdrop against which the horse drawn vacuum cleaner is portrayed. Booth designed the Ferris wheels for the quintessential entertainment hubs in cities like Vienna, Paris and London.

Born on 4 July 1871 in Gloucester city of England, Hubert Cecil Booth was a civil engineer whose path breaking invention of the vacuum cleaner, was used to clean the carpets in Westminster Abbey and was also put to use by the Royal Navy to sanitise their naval barracks.

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