On this day in 1879, Erastus Bigelow, the father of the modern carpet industry, died in Boston. Born in West Boylston, Bigelow and his brother followed their father into the textile business. After several inventions that mechanized production of suspender webbing and piping cord, Bigelow revolutionized the carpet-making industry with his invention of an automatic carpet loom in 1841. His Bigelow Carpet Company factory in Clinton produced various types of carpets much more cheaply than was possible with the use of hand looms, making carpets available to the middle class. Throughout his lifetime, Bigelow patented at least 35 looms. His interest in technology extended to educating future generations: he was one of the founders of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1861.