Because of Murray Spangler's chronic asthma, we are all breathing easier. Spangler was a janitor sweeping floors at a department store in 1907. To calm a hacking cough caused by the dust, he rigged up a dustless cleaner using an electric fan motor and a pillowcase attached to a broom handle. Convinced that his invention would fill an important vacuum, Spangler started a business. But he had no money to market the product -- until he sold one of his contraptions to a cousin. Her husband, William H. "Boss" Hoover, owned a saddle business that had dismal prospects since cars were replacing horses as the major mode of transportation. An agile entrepreneur, Hoover immediately recognized the potential of vacuum cleaners, and The Hoover Co. started making them in 1908.