Vacuum cleaners weren't always sleek handhelds or self-directing robots.
This image of an early vacuum cleaner came from a handbook for architects, circa 1911. The text advocated wiring new buildings to be vacuum-cleaner friendly, citing "the inestimable value of a portable cleaning system in apartments, hotels, churches and homes."
This is what portable cleanliness looked like around the dawn of the 20th century: "A dust receiver and motor are mounted upon an iron frame, which in turn is carried on two 16-inch rubber tired wheels, enabling the operator to easily move it around," raved an electrical news publication of the era.
This is how trains used to get clean -- with a vacuum cleaner on 20-inch wheels.
From a 1908 railway journal: "The entire equipment consists of one 12-in. carpet sweeper; two 4-in. renovating nozzles...one 50-ft. piece of vacuum hose; one reducer, for reducing from hose nipple to small tools, and one blower to nozzle."
Around 1916, homebuilders experimented with permanent vacuum cleaning systems built right into homes. "The stationary cleaner is installed in the house much on the same plan as the heating or plumbing system," one hygiene handbook explained.