The cotton gin was a machine used to seperate the fibers of cotton from the seeds. The American inventor, Eli Whitney, is generally credited with inventing the cotton gin in 1793. Before the invention of the cotton gin, seeds had to be removed from cotton fibers by hand; this labor-intensive and time-consuming process made growing and harvesting cotton uneconomical. The cotton gin allowed the seeds to be removed mechanically and rapidly from the cotton fobers, making cotton production economical and leading to dramatis growth in the United States cotton industry. This expansion contributed to an increase of slave labor in the United States. The cotton gin enabled one person to do the work previously done by 50 slave-pickers, an efficiency that spurred the rapid spreas of cotton plantations throughout the South in the US. The design remains virtually unchanged the the present day.