Richard Arkwright and John Kay of Great Britain invented the water frame in the late 1760s, and Arkwright applied for a patent in 1769. The patented spinning machine twisted 96 strands of yarn simultaneously.
The spinning machines became known as water frames because they were used in mills that worked off waterwheels. Water frames eventually replaced spinning jennies in the production of cotton thread. The jenny was an improvement over the spinning wheel, because the newer device was able to work 80 threads at once. However, it was still powered by a person. Water frames did not need continual expert supervision, so they were adopted in factories.