As farming has continued to drive the progress of civilizations, equipment to aid in planting and harvesting has been constantly developed throughout the centuries. One of these inventions, known as the mechanical reaper, works by cutting and gathering crops during harvest, and is especially useful in the reaping of large or multiple fields.
The first mechanical reaper was developed by the ancient Romans. This device was pushed by an oxen, and allowed for the harvesting of ears of wheat while keeping the straw intact. This greatly reduced the time and effort farmers needed in order to harvest the wheat by hand. Unfortunately, however, this device was largely forgotten about during the Dark Ages.
The reaper was re-introduced to the world in 1814 by Thomas Dobbs of Birmingham. This device used a circular saw to separate the ear and straw of wheat by feeding it up through a pair of rollers. Other reaper developments continued throughout Europe in the 1820s.
In the United States, several inventors worked to create and market the best possible reaper. The first to attempt this feat was Obed Husset in 1833. This design used two horses to pull the device, one man to drive, and another man to work the machine. The second attempt was that of Robert McCormick in 1837, to which he added numerous advancements to the reaper that allowed for an easier harvesting process. Both designs were considered crucial for the reapers success and continued development throughout the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Reapers continued to dominate farming communities until the mid 20th century, after which electronic and other mechanical devices were developed and became more popular and affordable. Today, the reaper remains a strong mechanical foundation for the numerous and varied farm equipment designs that have been created throughout the centuries.