Brian, a civil engineering student wrote to me looking for additional information on Charles B. Brooks, the inventor of an improved street sweeper and single hole punch. Some people believe that Charles B Brooks invented the "first" street sweeper, however, this is not true.
Brian you touch on a topic that my readers often misunderstand, the difference between inventing the very "first" and inventing an "improvement". Inventions are evolutionary by nature and nearly all patents are issued for "improved" versions of the same invention. For example, Henry Ford invented an "improved" assembly line and not the "first" assembly line like many people believe. However, if people knew how to search for and then read patents they might understand them better. Charles B Brooks was issued patents 556,711, 507,672, 560,154, and 558,719 for his inventions. Brooks writes in his 556,711 patent, "I have invented new and useful improvements to street sweepers" and he goes on to describe in his patent how his street sweeper was better than the street sweepers invented before his.