Who invented the earliest milking machines?
There are reports that primitive milking machines were used around 300 B.C.E. by the ancient Egyptians, who used hollow wheat stems inserted in the teats to milk cows. But hand milking was popular in the United States until about the 1860s, when American inventors began finding more efficient ways to milk cows. In 1860, Lee Colvin invented the first hand-held pump devise. In 1879, Anna Baldwin patented a milking machine that used a large rubber cup that connected on the cow's udder and to a pump lever and bucket. Working the pump lever pulled the milk out of the udder and into the bucket. Baldwin's was one of the earliest American patents; however, it was not successful: Her invention, like others of the time, created a continuous suction on the udder, damaging the cow's fragile mammary tissue and causing the cow to kick. These ideas laid the groundwork for the successful milking machines that started to appear in later decades, and today modern milking machines use a computerized vacuum suction to gather milk.