Automatic pool cleaners have come a long way since they began to come of age in the middle of the last century. Today’s sleek suction side cleaners , robust pressure side cleaners, and highly intelligent robotic cleaners owe their existence to a long line of innovators and inventions.
Although rooted in hand held vacuuming devices, “automatic” cleaners, or devices operating independent of human control began to really emerge in the 1950s.
According to the swimming pool historian Richard K. Cacioppo, “Like pools themselves, there almost certainly was not a single inventor or a single powered pool cleaner that has been recorded in history as the first such machine.” Cacioppo has made a study of attempting to track down the earliest prototypes using the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The first modern suction side cleaner, complete with brushes and rollers, was invented by Roy B. Everson, in 1937, a devise that has been refined and redesigned ever since.
The earliest types of “pressure side” cleaners began to make their first appearance in the early ‘50s. In 1953, Oliver Lombardi invented a device whose power source was a garden hose. The water from the hose stirred up debris to be collected in a trap.
Andy Pansini is often credited for having invented the first automatic cleaner. In 1957, when a running garden hose fell into his pool and began to wildly snake through the water, he got an idea, and the Rigid Arm Pool Cleaner was born. This device had a hose that was supplied by either a garden hose or the return side of the pump filter system that randomly stirred up dirt and debris allowing it to be collected by the skimmer or main drain. Believing that his invention would become a success, he founded the company Jandy, a name that combined his wife’s name, Jane, with his own.
Many also point to the Arneson Pool Sweep as the earliest of pressure side cleaners, invented in 1965.
Resembling an octopus, its sweeping hoses push debris toward the main drain while its floating “brain” transports the hoses and a rotating jet stream of water rinses the tile.
The first glimpse of what would become the most advanced of the automatic cleaners, the robotic cleaner, occurred in 1955, when Hugh Babcock invented the Submarine Suction Cleaner, a “self steering” electric-powered pool vacuum.
Today’s robotic cleaners are so advanced that the mind reels at their humble start.
Running completely separate from the filtration system, robotic cleaners are equipped with a microprocessor-based program that determines an efficient cleaning path.
With programmable cleaning frequencies, out of water sensors, and remote control activation, these high tech machines have come a long way.
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