The first automated knitting machine; one of the key pieces of equipment that kicked off the Industrial Revolution.
The Stocking Frame copies the hand movements of a tradesperson, knitting far faster than a person could. The machine worked with both wool, which tended to produce coarse but inexpensive fabric, and also silk. When cotton became more common, the Frame knitted inexpensive cotton stockings.
The stocking frame caused a certain amount of social upheaval, leading to the creation of the anti-automation Luddites. This was a group of people who strongly opposed automation, led by the likely mythical Ned Ludd. Luddites play a recurring role through innovations over time, especially innovations related to automation.
Like many inventors, Lee made little money from his innovation and — despite that it would go down in history as a bedrock of the future — he died with little money.