In 1765, Massachusetts (United States) was the setting for an invention that was to change the world forever: Eli Whitney’s cotton gin (gin being short for engine).

His simple enough idea was to remove, by machine, the seeds and other impurities that attached themselves to the cotton lint. As these must be removed before the fibre can be spun, this was a time consuming and tedious job when done by hand.

This invention transformed the production of cotton from local backyard to global business, it became an integral part of the industrial revolution and over the next few hundred years fortunes were made and lost, wars fought and societies changed.

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