They called it practical. The concept had been around for centuries. Then in the late 19th and early 20th century they made some mechanical progress and refined the idea.
Every farm in our Midwest community had one. One by one, for a variety of reasons, many went to another source of power. The one on our farm was an exception — working as designed until the early 1990’s.
This example (still working at a county park) is able to swivel and take advantage of a breeze from any direction. Ours pumped water into a concrete cistern. We could also move the pipe and fill the stock tank.