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Ever wondered what the top inventions that changed the way we live are? Here’s our list.

#1: Cotton Gin
A cotton gin, or “cotton engine,” is a machine that separates cotton fibers from their seeds rapidly and effortlessly, allowing for far higher production than hand cotton separation. [1] The fibers are subsequently processed into calico and other cotton goods, while any undamaged cotton is mostly utilized for textiles such as apparel. Cottonseed oil can be made from the separated seeds, which can be used to grow more cotton.

Eli Whitney, an American inventor, invented and patented a modern mechanical cotton gin in 1793.

To prevent clogs, Whitney’s gin used a wire screen and small wire hooks to pull the cotton through, while brushes continuously cleaned stray cotton lint. It not only revolutionized the cotton industry in the United States, but it also contributed to the expansion of slavery in the American South. Plantation owners expanded their farms and used additional slaves to pick the cotton when Whitney’s gin made cotton cultivation more profitable. Whitney never invented a cotton harvesting machine, therefore it had to be done by hand. As a result, the innovation has been cited as an unintentional contributor to the start of the American Civil War.

#2: Telephone
In the years 1876–1877, a new device known as the telephone was introduced. On February 14, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray filed separate patent applications for telephones with the US Patent Office in Washington. Bell was in Boston at the time and had no knowledge the application had been made. Gray’s application arrived at the patent office a few hours before Bell’s, but Bell’s lawyers insisted on paying the application fee right away, thus Bell’s application was registered first by the overburdened office.

Bell’s patent was approved and officially registered on March 7, and three days later the famous call is said to have been made when Bell’s summons to his assistant (“Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.”) confirmed that the invention worked.

#3: Air conditioning
Willis Haviland Carrier, a talented engineer who began experimenting with the rules of humidity management to solve an application problem at a printing facility in Brooklyn, NY, produced the first practical air conditioner in 1902. Carrier’s method, which borrowed from older mechanical refrigeration techniques, routed air through coils filled with cold water, cooling the air while also removing moisture to control room humidity. The Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America produced an air conditioner with a belt-driven condensing unit, accompanying blower, mechanical controls, and evaporator coil in 1933, and this device became the model in the booming US air-cooling market.

Today’s air conditioners integrate breakthroughs in vapor compression, diagnostics and controls, electronic sensors, materials, and energy efficiency, while functioning on the same underlying science as Carrier’s 1933 system.

#4: Moving Assembly Lines
Henry Ford installs the first moving assembly line for mass manufacture of an entire vehicle on December 1, 1913. His invention cut the time it took to build a car in half, from more than 12 hours to little over an hour and a half.

The Model T, which was released in 1908, was simple, durable, and reasonably priced–but not cheap enough for Ford, who was determined to make “motor car[s] for the broad multitude.” (“About everyone will have one when I’m done,” he added.) Ford reasoned that lowering the price of his cars would be as simple as finding a more efficient way to manufacture them.

Ford created moving lines for parts and pieces of the manufacturing process, inspired by continuous-flow production processes used by flour mills, breweries, canneries, and industrial bakeries.

#5: Lightbulb
Long before Thomas Edison patented and began commercializing his incandescent light bulb in 1879 and 1880, British inventors were showing the feasibility of electric light with the arc lamp. The first constant electric light was demonstrated in 1835, and scientists all over the world experimented with the filament (the part of the bulb that produces light when heated by an electrical current) and the bulb’s atmosphere for the next 40 years (whether air is vacuumed out of the bulb or it is filled with an inert gas to prevent the filament from oxidizing and burning out). These early bulbs had extremely limited lifespans, were prohibitively expensive to manufacture, and consumed excessive amounts of energy.

Without including William Sawyer and Albon Man, who got a U.S. patent for the incandescent lamp, and Joseph Swan, who patented his light bulb in England, the history of the light bulb would be incomplete. There was some discussion about whether Edison’s light bulb patents infringed on the patents of these other inventors. Edison’s lighting company in the United States eventually combined with the Thomson-Houston Electric Company, which made incandescent bulbs under the Sawyer-Man patent, to establish General Electric, while Edison’s lighting company in England amalgamated with Joseph Swan’s company to form Ediswan.

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