Eli Whitney, American inventor

Eli Whitney, American inventor

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Credit: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Eli Whitney (1765-1825), American inventor and pioneer of mass-production. In 1793 Whitney invented the cotton gin ('gin' being short for 'engine'), a device which stripped cotton fibre from the plant's seeds. The gin was a huge success, increasing a worker's output by fifty times, and was one of the key inventions of the industrial revolution. In 1798 he devised a method of carefully machining musket components so that any part could be replaced without manual adjustment, meaning that unskilled labour could assemble a musket. Photographed in the 1820s

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