Inventor of the Mechanical Reaper
Not long after Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin, Cyrus McCormick invented another significant agricultural invention that revolutionized farming: the mechanical reaper. Prior to this invention, reaping was a painstaking process (done by hand with a scythe) that limited a farm's harvest.
The initial idea and design for the reaper actually came from Cyrus McCormick's father, Robert, who worked on the invention for 16 years. In 1831, twenty-two-year-old Cyrus took over his father's project and, within six weeks, he had built, field-tested, remodeled and successfully demonstrated the world's first mechanical reaper. McCormick's invention automatically cut, threshed and bundled grain while being pulled through a field by horses.
In 1834, inventor Cyrus McCormick took out a patent on his invention and, soon after, began manufacturing the reaper himself. Despite the amazing potential of the invention, most farmers remained uninterested.
McCormick spent years making improvements to the mechanical reaper invention and coming up with business innovations to boost sales (including credit for purchases, performance guarantees, replacement parts and advertising). All his work eventually paid off – by 1851, Cyrus McCormick's reaper invention was an international sensation.