Q:

What did John Wyatt invent?

A:

Inventor John Wyatt, based in Birmingham, England, during the early to mid-18th century, was responsible for two innovations: the roller spinning machine and the compound-lever, or loaded wagon, weighing machine. Of these, he is best remembered for the roller spinning machine, which he co-created with Lewis Paul and patented in 1738.

Powered by donkeys, the design incorporated two sets of rollers spinning at different speeds in order to draw out thin wool fibers to spin. The machine was reasonably successful up until around 1741, after which Wyatt and Paul were declared bankrupt.

In the end, the problem was a simple matter of the machine's unreliability. Despite a wealthy mill owner's investment in five of the pair's roller spinning machines, the invention was ultimately a failure and did not catch on.

Wyatt and Paul nevertheless endeavored to improve the functionality of their invention, even taking out a second patent in 1758. This was 2 years after Wyatt had been imprisoned for debt.

Perhaps ironically, considering Wyatt's suffering, it is likely that the idea was originally Paul's, and that Wyatt simply contributed his engineering expertise to the project. In any case, despite the shortcomings of their invention, it greatly influenced the later, more successful creation of the water frame by Richard Arkwright.


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