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Posts Tagged ‘inventors’

On March 14, 1794, Eli Whitney was granted a patent for a modern mechanical cotton gin that he had created the year before.  Short for cotton engine, this machine pulls cotton fibers from their seeds in a fraction of the time it would take to do manually.  The growth of the cotton industry in the southern United States is attributed to this invention.  Despite the fact that it was intended as a labor-saving device, the mechanized production of cotton also increased the dependency on plantation agriculture and slavery to harvest the supply.  In the 19th century, cotton became a dominant economic force, and the cotton gin is often listed as one of the factors in the changing social, economic, and political atmosphere that eventually led to the American Civil War.

Engraving of a thread mill and cotton gin from the latter half of the 19th century. Image courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection.

You can find out more about patents, inventions, and their social effects through Opening History.

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American aviator, engineer, industrialist, film producer, film director, and philanthropist Howard Hughes (1905-1976) was born on Christmas eve, on December 24, 1905, in Texas.

Howard Hughes, 1951


The photograph above, courtesy of LA Examiner Digital Archive collection, shows Hughes in the cockpit of a plane in 1951.

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Famous American engineer and inventor George Westinghouse was born on October 6, 1846, in Central Bridge, New York. In 1886, George Westinghouse founded a Westinghouse Electric Company, which remains one of the major companies in U.S. industry. Production of household appliances, including washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc. has been among Westinghouse Company’s many areas of activity. One of the company’s early models of washing machines — Snowball — is featured on this 1913 photograph, courtesy of Utah State Historical Society, Shipler Photograph Collection:

Washing Machine, Westinghouse Electric Company (1913)

Washing Machine, Westinghouse Electric Company (1913)

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