Eli Whitney was an inventor best known for his invention of the cotton gin. But it was his ideas and methods that had the greatest impact on America, bringing the country into the Industrial Revolution. He grew up as a farmer s son, but was often found in his father s workshop. As a boy during the American Revolution, he started his first business as a supplier of nails. Against his family s wishes, he insisted on getting an education from Yale. It was while he was studying to be a lawyer that he stumbled upon a solution to clean cotton. Whitney most enjoyed looking at a problem and trying to solve it, whether it was how to clean cotton or lock a desk. He created solutions with easily understood steps. With these steps, he developed a system of manufacturing that worked well with anything that had pieces to be put together. It would be used to mass-produce guns, sewing machines, and, later, cars. Today s manufacturing can be traced to Eli Whitney.