Whitney, Eli (1765–1825)
US inventor of the cotton gin (1793), from which he earned little because
of patent infringements, and pioneer of mass
production. In 1798 he contracted with the US Government to make 10,000
muskets: he took 8-years to fulfil the 2-year contract, but showed that
with unskilled labor muskets could be put together using parts that were
precision-made and thus interchangeable, a benefit not only during production
but in later maintenance.