Guarding the Sanctuary: New Initiative to Provide Protection for Israel's Synagogues

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This Month’s Topic:  


Who invented the first electric vacuum cleaner?

The vacuum cleaner as we know it was invented in 1907 by James Murray Spangler, a janitor from Canton, Ohio. He used an old fan motor to create suction, and a pillowcase on a broom handle for the filter.

Spangler was not the first person to come up with the concept of the vacuum cleaner, but his version was the first that was able to be used in every home, as it was lightweight, portable, and motorized. Earlier versions were bulky, noisy, smelly, and unsuccessful.

It is interesting to note that Hoover’s first vacuum was the 1908 Model O, which sold for $60. That is the equivalent of $1400 nowadays!

When was the first escalator invented?

The earliest working type of escalator was patented in 1892 by Jesse W. Reno, and was introduced in 1896 as a new novelty ride at the Old Pier at Coney Island, a theme park in New York.

However, the first person to design the concept of an escalator was Nathan Ames of Massachusetts. Ames was granted a patent for his invention, which he called “Revolving Stairs,” on March 9, 1859. Unfortunately, it was never built, as Ames died in 1860.

The escalator as we now know it was later re-designed in 1897 by Charles Seeberger, who created the name “escalator” from the words “scala” (Latin for “steps”) and “elevator” (which had already been invented). Seeberger registered it as a trademark for a moving stairway.

In 1899, Seeberger teamed up with the Otis Elevator Company and produced the first commercial escalator at the Otis factory in New York.

How was chewing gum invented?

Thomas Adams of New York was experimenting with the chicle plant from Mexico. His original intention was to try using it as a rubber substitute. He tried to make balls, toys, rain boots, and tires out of the chicle, but every attempt failed. One day in 1869, he put a piece of the chicle in his mouth, and he liked the taste of it. As he was chewing, he came up with the idea of adding flavoring to the chicle. Shortly after, he opened the world's first chewing gum factory. In February, 1871, Adams’s New York Gum went on sale in drugstores for a penny apiece.

Question of the Month:

This month’s question was submitted by Linda of Deal, NJ

Q: Dear Professor,Who invented the first portable, hand-held camera?

A: Dear Linda, In 1888, George Eastman, a former bank clerk and anavid photographer, patented the first portable, hand-held camera, which he called the “Kodak.” That was the year the Eastman Kodak Company was born.