As a teenager, Eli Whitney’s first invention was an improved apple peeler. He later went on to invent the cotton gin, which changed the history of the United States.
The first apple peelers merely peeled an apple, and had to be loaded and unloaded by hand, one apple at a time. Innovations included peelers that also cored the apple, peelers that removed the apple once it was peeled, and eventually peelers that also loaded the apple. Coles demonstrated an automated apple peeler than can peel and core 90 apples in a minute, and said that modern apple canneries now have dozens of machines that process up to 120 apples in a minute. Some of these canners will process millions of apples in a single day. Overall, said Coles, there are more than 200 apple peeler patents on file.
Coles doubts that apple peelers can be improved much further, because he thinks they’re nearly perfect. Then again, humans have proven to be very ingenious.