December 8, 2013 AT 8:00 am

Famous Inventor Born On This Day: Eli Whitney

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Today marks the 248th birthday of American inventor Eli Whitney. Best known for inventing the cotton gin, Whitney was a major contributor to the Industrial Revolution. Via about.com

Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin revolutionized the cotton industry in the United States. Prior to his invention, farming cotton required hundreds of man-hours to separate the cottonseed from the raw cotton fibers. Simple seed-removing devices have been around for centuries, however, Eli Whitney’s invention automated the seed separation process. His machine could generate up to fifty pounds of cleaned cotton daily, making cotton production profitable for the southern states.

Eli Whitney failed to profit from his invention because imitations of his machine appeared and his 1794 patent for the cotton gin could not be upheld in court until 1807. Whitney could not stop others from copying and selling his cotton gin design.

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