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James B. Kirby (September 28, 1884 - June 9, 1971) was an American inventor most known for inventing the Kirby vacuum cleaner.

His father was a Great Lakes marine engineer. Kirby grew up in Cleveland's southwest side on Marvin Avenue. He claims that he got his start early by attending electricity and magic classes at the Y.M.C.A. While attending Lincoln High School he worked as a lamplighter where he walked up and down Scranton road and Denison avenue lighting and snuffing out the street lights for which he earned $16.50 a month. He would often also go to downtown Cleveland and "stuff" newspapers for a dollar a night. He invented his first vacuum cleaner in 1906, which was a cumbersome machine that took two individuals to operate. This was the first vacuum to use water for filtration. Jim Kirby lived most of his adult life on his farm in Richfield, Ohio, about 28 miles south of Cleveland.

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