Year Keyword Event  and Description
1225 tx tx Cotton K Cotton is manufactured in Spain. The fabric will compete with linen and wool (see 3000 B.C.). 
1272 tx tx Silk K A silk-reeling machine is invented and will spur the use of silk textiles. 
1298 tx tx Sew K The invention of the spinning wheel revolutionizes textile production. 
1337 tx * Wool P A “Hundred Years’ War” between England and France begins as Philip VI contests English claims to Normandy, Maine, Anjou, and other French territories while England’s Edward III denies Philip’s legitimacy, assumes the title king of France, and orders Philip to yield his throne. Edward gains support from the townspeople of Flanders, who depend on English wool for their industry, and from the City of London, which is concerned about French influence in its Flemish market (see wool embargo, 1336). 
1733 tx ir Wool K The flying shuttle invented by English weaver John Kay revolutionizes the hand loom, halves labor costs, and prepares the way for further developments that will speed the industrialization of Britain’s cottage industry in textiles (see Arkwright, 1769). 
1764 tx ir Wool K Pennsylvania colony mechanic James Davenport invents machinery to spin and card wool. 
1769 tx ir Wool K English inventor Richard Arkwright, 37, patents a spinning frame that can produce cotton thread hard and firm enough for the warp of woven fabric. Arkwright’s invention will have a profound effect on Western society (see 1770; Luddites, 1811). 
1770 tx ir Textile K English weaver-mechanic James Hargreaves patents a spinning jenny that automates part of the textile industry (see Arkwright, 1769; Crompton, 1779; Luddites, 1811). 
1779 tx ir Cotton K English millhand Samuel Crompton, 26, devises a muslin wheel, or spinning mule, which spins yarns suitable for muslin, but he lacks the funds needed to obtain a patent for his improvement on the 1770 spinning jenny and is tricked into revealing his secret, a landmark in the Industrial Revolution (which will not be called that until 1881). 
1785 tx ir Cotton U Steam powers textile machinery for the first time. An English cotton factory at Papplewick, Nottinghamshire, installs a Boulton and Watt rotative engine (see 1782). 
1790 tx ir Cotton K The first successful U.S. cotton mill is established at the falls of the Blackstone River at what later will be called Pawtucket, R.I. Samuel Slater and ironmaster David Wilkinson set up a mill that operates satisfactorily after a correction is made in the slope of the carder teeth (see 1789; 1793; Whitney, 1792). 
1792 tx ir Whitney J Eli Whitney’s cotton gin will increase U.S. cotton planting, producing an increased demand for slave labor (see 1782; 1803). 
1792 tx ir Whitney K The simple cylinder produced by Eli Whitney contains teeth made of bird cage wire bent and pointed into the shape of sawteeth, each circle of teeth moving in a slot slightly smaller than a cotton seed. When the cylinder is turned, the teeth carry the cotton through the slot, leaving the seeds behind, and a slave can clean 50 pounds of green-seed cotton per day instead of 1 pound—a great advance over the churka used in India since 300 B.C. to clean cotton at a rate of 5 pounds per day. 
1794 tx * Whitney E Eli Whitney patents his 1792 cotton gin and sets up a company with Mrs. Nathanael Greene’s second husband Phineas Miller to establish gins at central points for processing planters’ green-seed cotton. But the patent is infringed, Whitney earns nothing from his cotton gin, and Miller loses a fortune trying vainly to fight patent infringers (1798) 
1810 tx tx Amoskeag K Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. is founded on the Merrimack River in the New Hampshire town of Amoskeag that becomes Manchester, taking its name from the great English milltown. The new company will soon be operating the world’s largest cotton mill. 
1812 tx tx Lowell K New Englander Francis Cabot Lowell, 37, charters a cotton fabric company in association with his brother-in-law Patrick Tracey Jackson, 33. Lowell has memorized the designs and specifications of English textile machinery (see 1814; Slater, 1789). 
1813 tx ir Textile K English inventor William Horrocks produces the world’s first power loom (see Bigelow, 1839). 
1814 tx ir Lowell E Massachusetts becomes a cotton cloth producer to meet the pent-up demand for the cloth that came from England before the war. Francis Cabot Lowell raises $100,000 for the company he started with Patrick Jackson in 1812, uses 
1823 tx ir Burberry L The Macintosh raincoat has its beginnings in a waterproof fabric of rubber bonded to cloth patented by Scottish chemist Charles Macintosh, 57, who applies his research on possible uses of the coal tar distillate naphtha. It is sticky in hot weather and brittle in cold but Macintosh’s cloth will make the name Macintosh a British generic for raincoat (see Goodyear, 1839; Aquascutum, 1851; Burberry, 1856). 
1829 tx ha Sew K French inventor Barthélemy Thimmonier, 36, develops the world’s first practical sewing machine. He will obtain a contract to produce French army uniforms, but a mob will destroy one of his new machines out of fear that French tailors will be deprived of their livelihoods (see Luddites, 1811; Hunt, 1832). 
1832 tx ha Sew K A modern sewing machine devised by New York inventor Walter Hunt, 36, has a needle with an eye in its point that pushes thread through cloth to interlock with a second thread carried by a shuttle. Hunt does not obtain a patent, and when he suggests in 1838 that his daughter Caroline, then 15, go into business making corsets with his machine, she will protest that it would put needy seamstresses out of work (see Thimmonier, 1829; Howe, 1843; Hunt’s safety pin, 1849). 
1839 tx ir Co. K Massachusetts inventor Erastus Brigham Bigelow, 25, devises a power loom to weave two-ply ingrain carpets (see
1843 tx ha Sew K The Howe Sewing Machine, invented by Boston machine shop apprentice Elias Howe, Jr., 27, uses two threads to make a stitch that is interlocked by a shuttle. Howe is not familiar with Walter Hunt’s machine of 1832 (see 1846). 
1846 tx ha Sew K The Howe Sewing Machine of 1843 is patented September 10, but U.S. tailors and garment makers are fearful of using it lest they antagonize their workers. Howe’s English agent pirates British royalties on the machine and there is wide infringement on the patent (see Singer, 1850, 1851). 
1847 tx ir Cotton U Steam powers a U.S. cotton mill for the first time at Salem, Mass., where the Maumkoag Steam Cotton Mill begins
1850 tx ha Singer K The Singer Sewing Machine invented by U.S. actor-mechanic Isaac Merrit Singer, 38, will become the world’s largest-selling machine of its kind (see Howe, 1843). A boiler explosion has destroyed Singer’s patented wood-carving machine, he has watched some Boston mechanics trying to repair a primitive sewing machine, and he has been inspired to devise a better one (see 1851). 
1851 tx ha Singer L I. M. Singer receives a patent on his sewing machine August 12. He has gone into partnership with his New York lawyer Edward Clark, 41, who will defend I. M. Singer and Co. from patent suits brought by Elias Howe (see 1846; 1850). Howe will eventually win a Massachusetts court decision and make a fortune from royalties that Singer will pay as the sewing machine gains worldwide distribution (see Hunt, 1858). 
1856 tx ha Singer F I. M. Singer & Co. offers a $50 allowance on old sewing machines turned in for new Singer machines—the first trade-in
1858 tx ha Singer E Isaac M. Singer offers sewing machine inventor Walter Hunt of 1854 paper collar fame $50,000 in five annual payments to clear up any possible patent claims, but Hunt will die in June of next year at age 62 before the first payment falls due, having derived little benefit from his Globe stove, fountain pen, breech-loading rifle, or other inventions. 
1861 tx ha Singer E I. M. Singer sells more sewing machines abroad than in America and has profits of nearly $200,000 on assets of little more than $1 million (see 1856; 1863). 
1883 tx tx Silk K An artificial silk is developed from nitrocellulose by French chemist Hilaire Bernigaud, 44, comte de Chardonnet (see
1913 tx * Machine L Swedish-American inventor Gideon Sundback, 33, develops the first dependable slide-fastener and efficient machines to manufacture it commercially. He attaches matching metal locks to a flexible backing, each tooth being a tiny hook that engages with an eye under an adjoining hook on an opposite tape. He will patent improvements on his slide fastener in 1917 and assign the patents to the Hookless Fastener Co. of Meadville, Pa., which will manufacture the Talon slide fastener (see Judson, 1893; “zipper,” 1926).  
1922 tx tx Amoskeag J The Amoskeag textile mill in Manchester, N.H., announces February 2 that it is cutting wages 20 percent and increasing weekly hours from 48 to 52. French-Canadian financier Frederic C. Dumaine, 56, controls the mill and finds that demand for gingham has shrunk, Southern mills are better equipped and more efficient. Amoskeag workers begin a 9-month strike. 
1923 tx tx Burlington E Textile executive J. Spencer Love, 27, of Gastonia, N.C., sells his mill at auction for $200,000, retains his outworn machines, moves them to Burlington whose Chamber of Commerce has agreed to underwrite a $250,000 stock offering and sell the stock to local investors, produces a coarse cotton dress fabric that promptly goes out of fashion, but will make his company the largest U.S. rayon producer. Burlington will become the world’s largest diversified textile producer. 
1926 tx * Clothing L Slide fasteners get the name “zippers” after a promotional luncheon at which English novelist Gilbert Frankau, 42, has said, “Zip! It’s open! Zip! It’s closed!” (see Sundback, 1913). Elsa Schiaperelli will use zippers in her 1930 line and when the general patents expire the following year the zipper will come into wide use in men’s trousers, jeans, windbreakers, and sweaters and in women’s dresses and other apparel. 
1929 tx * Clothing L The first crease-resistant cotton fabric is introduced by Tootal’s of St. Helens, England. 
1940 tx * Clothing L Cotton fabrics hold 80 percent of the U.S. textile market at the mills, down from 85 percent in 1930. Man-made fabrics, most of them cellulose fabrics such as rayon and acetate, have increased their market share to 10 percent (see 1950). 
1948 tx * Textron E Textron becomes the world’s first business conglomerate as Royal Little diversifies by acquiring Cleveland Pneumatic
1955 tx * Textron E Textron American is incorporated as the first business conglomerate. Royal Little has acquired the giant 56-year-old
1970 tx * Clothing L Man-made fabrics raise their share of the U.S. textile market to 56 percent, up from 28 percent in 1960, with polyesters enjoying a 41 percent share of the market and cotton only 40 percent, down from 65 percent in 1960. E. I. Du Pont’s patent on polyester has run out, other companies have entered the market, and some big chemical companies have helped mills that use polyester-cotton blends with massive consumer advertising to proclaim the virtues of durable press fabrics.