We all know that Many people have read the story of how George Washington Carver invented peanut butter. Others are familiar with the story of Sarah Breedlove, aka Madam C. J. Walker, the inventor of beauty products and the first woman to become a self-made millionaire in America. And thanks to the Academy Award nominated film, Hidden Figures, we’re now all familiar with the amazing contributions of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. Black African inventions
Dry Cleaning invented by African Man Thomas Jennings
But, did you know that many of the products we use every day were created by black African people? Here’s a list of of them that, until now, you probably didn’t know about. Thomas L. Jennings is the inventor and first to patent the commercial dry cleaning process known as “dry scouring”, on March 3, 1821 (Patent Number: US 3,306X).
Did you know that dry cleaning was invented in 1821 by an African American named Thomas Jennings? Thomas L. Jennings (1791–1856) was an African–American tradesman and abolitionist. He was a FREE BLACK who operated a dry–cleaning business in New York City, and was the first African American to be granted a patent.
Thomas Jennings, a U.S. tailor and inventor, as well as the first known African-American to receive a patent in the United States, used a method called “dry scouring” to clean clothes that traditional cleaning methods would damage.
Charles Baker, the little-known African inventor of the first friction radiator (inventions)
Baker worked over the span of decades on his product, attempting several different forms of friction, including rubbing two bricks together mechanically, as well as using various types of metals. After twenty-three years, the invention was perfected in the form of two metal cylinders, one inside of the other, with a spinning core in the center made of wood, that produced the friction. Baker started a business with several other men to manufacture the heater. The Friction Heat & Boiler Company was established in 1904, in St. Joseph, with Baker on the board of directors. The company worked up to 136,000 dollars in capital, equal to nearly 4 million dollars in 2018
Automobiles invented and manufactured by C.R Patterson (inventions)
C.R Patterson, Born Slave, Built Automobiles Before Henry Ford. Some of the finest buggies made in the late 1800s came out of a small, black-owned company in Ohio. Though its name is little recognized today, there is in fact a very important reason to ensure that it is not lost to history: it was, and remains to this day, the only African American owned and operated automobile company. Charles Richard Patterson was born into slavery on a Virginia plantation in 1833.
*Charles Richard Patterson’s birth in 1833 is celebrated on this date. He was a Black slave who gained his own freedom and became an inventor and carriage company entrepreneur. Born on a Virginia plantation, Charles R. … There, Patterson worked for the Dines and Simpson Carriage and Coach Makers Company.
Chemotherapy invented by Dr. Jane C. Wright (inventions)
Dr. Jane C. Wright was a pioneering cancer researcher and surgeon celebrated for her contributions to chemotherapy. Working alongside her father who was one of the first African American graduates of Harvard Medical School and New York City’s first African American surgeons, Dr. Wright made many important contributions to modern cancer treatment.
Dr. Jane C. Wright was a pioneering cancer researcher and surgeon celebrated for her contributions to chemotherapy. Working alongside her father who was one of the first African American graduates of Harvard Medical School and New York City’s first African American surgeons
Alfred L. Cralle invented the Ice cream Scoop (inventions)
Alfred L. Cralle died in a car accident nearly 100 years ago, but his invention continues to provide an essential part of your summer experience.
July 15 is National Ice Cream Day, and while you’re feverishly shoveling spoonfuls of your favorite flavor into your mouth, it’s Cralle you can thank for those picture perfect scoops.
While working as a porter in Markell Brothers drugstore and St. Charles Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pa, Cralle noticed that ice cream stuck to the spoons and ladles the servers used, and they usually had to use two hands to separate them.
Cralle responded to this ice cream crisis by creating the ice cream scoop — originally called the Ice Cream Mold and Disher. It was designed to be strong, inexpensive and easy to operate with one hand. It had no moving parts that could break or malfunction.
On February 2, 1897, thirty-year-old Cralle applied for and received the patent #576,395. He was the first African-American in Pittsburgh to receive a patent.
Water closet was invented by J.B. Rhodes in 1899 (inventions)
On December 19, 1899, J.B. Rhodes invented the water closet. Today, it is commonly known as the toilet or commode A holder of over 200 patents, Rhodes never received much fame for any of his inventions, however, one, in particular, caught our attention. On December 19, 1899, J.B.Rhodes applied for a patent for his invention, the water closet. At first glance, it looks like a regular toilet but read the patent.
Did you know this black man is behind the invention of the first digital cell phone? (inventions)
One of such unrelenting black personalities is the inventor of the digital cellphone Jesse Eugene Russell. He is an electrical engineer, and a business executive. He was born on April 26, 1948, in Nolensville, Tennessee to Mary Louise Russell and Charles Albert Russell and raised in inner-city Nashville along with his 10 other siblings.
Touch-tone telephone, the portable fax, caller ID, call waiting, and the fiber-optic cable invented by – Dr. Shirley Jackson (inventions)
Dr. Shirley Jackson is an African in American physicist who received her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973. She was the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate in nuclear physics at MIT. In addition to her lengthy list of academic achievements, she also has an impressive number of inventions under her belt.
Her experiments with theoretical physics paved the way for numerous developments in the telecommunication space including the touch-tone telephone, the portable fax, caller ID, call waiting, and the fiber-optic cable.
Today, Dr. Shirley Jackson is the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
Carbon filament, a vital component of the light bulb invented by Lewis Latimer (inventions)
Inventor and engineer Lewis Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on September 4, 1848. He collaborated with science greats Hiram Maxim and Thomas Edison.
One of Latimer’s greatest inventions was the carbon filament, a vital component of the light bulb. His inventions didn’t stop there, working with Alexander Graham Bell, Latimer helped draft the patent for Bell’s design of the telephone. This genius also designed an improved railroad car bathroom and an early air conditioning unit. So the next time you’re escaping a hot day inside your cool house, don’t forget to thank Lewis Latimer.
Closed-circuit television camera invented (CCTV) by Marie Van Brittan Brown (inventions)
A closed-circuit television camera can produce images or recordings for surveillance or other private purposes. Cameras can be either video cameras, or digital stills cameras. Walter Bruch was the inventor of the CCTV camera. The main purpose of a CCTV camera is to capture light and convert it into a video signal. Underpinning a CCTV camera is a CCD sensor (charge-coupled device). The CCD converts light into an electrical signal and then signal processing converts this electrical signal into a video signal that can be recorded or displayed on the screen.
Did you know that the first home security system was invented by a Black nurse? Meet Marie Van Brittan Brown. Although she was a full-time nurse, she recognized the security threats to her home and devised a system that would alert her of strangers at her door and contact relevant authorities as quickly as possible. Before security systems became a fixture in homes, an African-American nurse Mary Van Brittan Brown, devised an early security unit for her own home. She spent many nights at home alone in Queens, New York while her husband was away, and felt unsafe with high rates of crime in her neighborhood. On top of that, police were unreliable and unresponsive. So she created a device that would help put her mind at ease
Her original invention consisted of peepholes, a camera, monitors, and a two-way microphone. The finishing touch was an alarm button that, when pressed, would immediately contact the police. Her patent laid the groundwork for the modern closed-circuit television system that is widely used for surveillance, home security systems, push-button alarm triggers, crime prevention, and traffic monitoring. She added other features to the system, including a microphone to speak to anyone at the door, a button to unlock the door, and a button to contact the police. She and her husband took out a patent for the system in the same year, and they were awarded the patent three years later in 1969. Home security systems commonly used today took various elements from her design.
Wire precision resistor and a control unit for the pacemaker invented by Otis Boykin
Boykin, who took a special interest in working with resistors, began researching and inventing on his own. He sought and received a patent for a wire precision resistor on June 16, 1959. This resistor would later be used in radios and televisions. Two years later, he created a breakthrough device that could withstand extreme changes in temperature and pressure. The device, which was cheaper and more reliable than others on the market, came in great demand by the United States military for guided missiles and IBM for computers.
Otis Boykin’s most notable contribution to science was likely the circuit improvements he made to pacemakers after losing his mother to heart failure — a contribution that has saved countless lives since. But this single improvement was among a long list of achievements.
Boykin had 26 patents in his name and is famed for the development of IBM computers, burglar-proof cash register, chemical air filters, and an electronic resistor used in controlled missiles and other devices.
In 1964, Boykin moved to Paris, creating electronic innovations for a new market of customers. His most famous invention was a control unit for the pacemaker. Ironically, Boykin died in Chicago in 1982 as a result of heart failure. Upon his death, he had 26 patents to his name.
The Super Soaker invented by Lonnie G. Johnson (inventions)
Get to know engineer Lonnie Johnson, founder and president of Johnson Research and Development Co., who invented the wildly-popular Super Soaker water gun, worked on high-performance Nerf dart guns, and focuses today on inventions related to clean energy.
Did you ever enjoy water gun fights as a kid? Well, meet Lonnie Johnson, the man that gave us the most famous water gun — the Super Soaker. Lonnie wasn’t a toymaker, he was actually an Aerospace Engineer for NASA with a resume boasting a stint with the US Air Force, work on the Galileo Jupiter probe and Mars Observer project, and more than 40 patents.
Yes, he is also working on the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter (JTEC) which converts heat directly into electricity — but it’s the squirt gun he created that has given us all the most joy.
Blood banks and blood plasma programs. invented by Charles Drew (inventions)
Charles Drew was an African in America surgeon who pioneered methods of … who developed ways to process and store blood plasma in “blood banks.”
Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Thanks to Charles Drew, that blood is available. Drew was a physician, surgeon, and medical researcher who worked with a team at Red Cross on groundbreaking discoveries around blood transfusions. In World War II, he played a major role in developing the first large-scale blood banks and blood plasma programs.
He also invented the, and get ready because this name is pretty charming — bloodmobiles. These are the refrigerated trucks that, to this day, safely transport stored blood to the location where it is needed most.
Drew was one of the most prominent doctors working in his field, and one of the only African-Americans, during a time when blood donation was still separated along lines of race. Drew eventually resigned from his position with the American Red Cross over their insistence on adhering to this policy. It was 1950 before the Red Cross finally recognized all blood as being equal.
Internet protocol (VoIP) invented by Marian R. Croak
Her tenacity led her to become the pioneer behind VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), which enabled secure and reliable voice communications over the internet. After Hurricane Katrina, Croak invented technology that allowed people to securely donate to charity via text message.
In 2013, Marian Croak was inducted into Women in Technology International’s hall of fame, a move that recognizes her remarkable achievements in tech. Croak holds over 135 patents, primarily in voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP), some in other areas. She has another 100 patents currently under review.
Today, Marian is an SVP at AT&T, serves as a mentor for women in AT&T labs, and sits on the board for the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education Center.
Shockwave, a technology that formed the beginning of web animation invented by Lisa Gelobter
If you ever enjoyed an animated Gif on the web, like this one amazing clip of a kitten being scared by an iguana, then you have Lisa Gelobter to thank.
Gelobter was integrally involved with the advent of Shockwave, a technology that formed the beginning of web animation. She also played a major role in the emergency of online video, later serving on the senior management team at Hulu.
Previously, Lisa was the Interim Head of Digital for BET Networks and ran Technology, Product and Business Operations. Today, you can catch Lisa at the White House, in the United States Digital Service. She is currently serving as the Chief Digital Service Officer with the US Department of Education.
World’s first super computer — able to perform 3.1 billion calculations per second, Internet and programming invented by Philip Emeagwali
Due to cost, Philip Emeagwali was forced to drop out of school at age 14. But this didn’t stop him from becoming one of the greatest computer pioneers of our time. In fact, he’s often called “The Bill Gates of Africa.”
As an adult, Emeagwali began studying nature, specifically bees. The construction of the honeycombed inspired him to rethink computer processing. In 1989, he put this idea to work, using 65,000 processes to invent the world’s first super computer — able to perform 3.1 billion calculations per second.
Invention of mathematical models to explain gamma radiation by Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr.
He developed mathematical models by which the amount of gamma radiation absorbed by a given material can be calculated. This technique of calculating radiative absorption is widely used among researchers in space and nuclear science projects. In 1976, Wilkins was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering.
Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr. is one of America’s most important contemporary mathematicians. At 13, he became the University of Chicago’s youngest student. Wilkins continued his studies there, earning bachelor, master, and eventually earning his doctorate degree in mathematics at the age of 19.
He’s published papers in mathematics, optics, and nuclear engineering. As a mathematician for the American Optical Company in Buffalo, N.Y., he perfected lens design for microscopes and ophthalmologic uses. His greatest contribution to scholarship was the development of mathematical models to explain gamma radiation and his work on developing a shielding against gamma radiation.
His other claim to fame came from working on the Manhattan Project. At the Manhattan Project, Wilkins worked with future Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner and made significant contributions to nuclear-reactor physics, now known as the Wilkins effect and the Wigner-Wilkins spectrum.
Automatic lubricator for oiling the engines invented by Elijah McCoy
Often regarded as one of the most famous black inventors ever, McCoy was credited for 50 inventions over the span of his career. He invented an automatic lubricator for oiling the steam engines of locomotives and ships, patenting it in 1872 as “Improvement in Lubricators for Steam-Engines” (U.S. Patent 129,843).
In an effort to improve efficiency and eliminate the frequent stopping necessary for lubrication of trains, McCoy devised a method of automating the task. In 1872 he developed a “lubricating cup” that could automatically drip oil when and where needed — vital in avoiding sticking to the track. The lubricating cup met with enormous success and orders for it came in from railroad companies all over the country. It was so popular that when other inventors attempted to steal his idea and sell their own versions of the device, companies were not fooled. They insisted on the authentic device, calling it “the Real McCoy.”
Invention of Gas Mask and Thre light Traffic Lights (Signal) by Garrett Morgan in 1923
In 1914, Garrett Morgan patented a breathing device in the form of a canvas hood—a precursor to the modern gas mask. … Garrett Morgan invented the first automatic three-way traffic signal system, which he eventually sold to General Electric. The Three-Light Traffic Light, Invented by Garrett Morgan in 1923
Those who survived either of the World Wars thanks to a gas mask have Garrett Morgan to thank. Morgan first created the “safety hood” to help firefighters navigate smokey buildings, later modifying it to carry its own air supply— making it the world’s first effective gas masks.
He also had the good sense to add a third position to the traffic signal — yes, there was a time when traffic signals just said indicated “stop” or “go” — an addition that further reduced automobile accidents.
Sanitary belt, the walker and the toilet-tissue holder invented by Mary and Mildred Davidson
Mary and her sister Mildred patented many practical inventions. They didn’t have technical education, but they were both exceptional at spotting ways to make peoples’ lives better. Together, they invented the sanitary belt. Later, Mary invented the moisture-resistant pocket for the belt. While disabled from multiple sclerosis, Mary went on to invent the walker and the toilet-tissue holder.
Improved Ironing Board, Invented by Sarah Boone in 1892
Sarah Boone (1832–1904) was an American inventor who on April 26, 1892, obtained United States patent number 473,563 for her improvements to the ironing board. Boone’s ironing board was designed to improve the quality of ironing sleeves and the bodies of women’s garments.The ironing board is a product that’s used possibly just as much as it’s overlooked. In the late 19th century, it was improved upon by Sarah Boone, an African-American woman who was born a slave. One of the first black women in U.S. history to receive a patent, she expanded upon the original ironing board, which was essentially a horizontal wooden block originally patented in 1858. With Boone’s 1892 additions, the board featured a narrower and curved design, making it easier to iron garments, particularly women’s clothing. Boone’s design would morph into the modern ironing board that we use today.
Refrigerated Trucks, Invented by Frederick McKinley Jones in 1940
It was Minnesota-based engineer Frederick McKinley Jones who finally “broke the ice” with his invention and 1940 patent of the first practical transport refrigeration unit for trucks. His portable air-cooling device featured a gasoline motor built to handle the jolts of over-the-road travel.
If your refrigerator has any produce from your local grocery store, then you can credit African in America inventor Frederick McKinley Jones. Jones took out more than 60 patents throughout his life, including a patent for the roof-mounted cooling system that’s used to refrigerate goods on trucks during extended transportation in the mid-1930s. He received a patent for his invention in 1940, and co-founded the U.S. Thermo Control Company, later known as Thermo King. The company was critical during World War II, helping to preserve blood, food and supplies during the war.
Automatic Elevator Doors, Invented by Alexander Miles in 1887
Alexander Miles (May 18, 1838 – May 7, 1918) was an African inventor and business person, best known for being awarded a patent for automatically opening and closing elevator doors. He was awarded U.S. Patent 371,207 on October 11, 1887.
The use of elevators in everyday life keeps people from committing to long and grueling climbs up several flights of stairs. However, before the creation of elevator doors that close automatically, riding a lift was both complicated and risky.
Before automatic doors, people had to manually shut both the shaft and elevator doors before riding. Forgetting to do so led to multiple accidents as people fell down elevator shafts. When the daughter of African-American inventor Alexander Miles almost fatally fell down the shaft, he took it upon himself to develop a solution. In 1887 he took out a patent for a mechanism that automatically opens and closes elevator shaft doors and his designs are largely reflected in elevators used today.
Electret Microphone, Co-Invented by James E. West in 1964
Upon his graduation in 1957, he joined Bell Labs and began work in electroacoustics, physical acoustics, and architectural acoustics. In conjunction with Gerhard Sessler, West patented the electret microphone in 1964 while working at Bell Laboratories.
Even for those who aren’t quick to pick up the mic during karaoke, microphones are used every day to communicate over distances far and wide. And more than 90 percent of the microphones used today, including the microphones used in phones and cameras, use a microphone co-invented by a black man. Dr. James E. West was tasked with creating a more sensitive and compact microphone while working at Bell Labs in 1960.
Along with his German colleague Gerhard Sessler, West invented the foil electret microphone, which was considerably less expensive to produce than the typically used condenser microphones. Two years after it was invented, the final model of the microphone was developed and in 1964 they patented the landmark invention. Only four years later, the new microphone was in wide production was used in hearing aids, tape recorders, most telephones and baby monitors.
Color IBM PC Monitor and Gigahertz Chip, Co-Invented by Mark Dean c. 1980 and 1999
His work led to the development of the color PC monitor and, in 1999, Dean led a team of engineers at IBM’s Austin, Texas, lab to create the first gigahertz chip—a revolutionary piece of technology that is able to do a billion calculations a second.
Before flat screens and hi-definition LCD monitors were the norm, PC displays were limited to screens with no color that were tethered to computers with limited processing power. That all changed thanks to black inventor and engineer Mark Dean. Dean began working for IBM as a chief engineer in the early 1980s, making up a team of 12 people who would develop the first IBM PC. In addition to helping create IBM’s original machine in his early years with the company, he also worked to develop the color monitor and led the team that developed the first gigahertz processor. The massive chip, built in 1999, would allow for for higher processing rates at faster speeds within PCs.
Abrams, W. B. Invented the HAME attachment in 1891
Abrams, W. B. Invented the HAME attachment in 1891. Invented a ladder scaffold support (patented August 5, 1879).
Patent Number: 450550
Patent Date: 4/14/1891
Invention of an x-ray spectrometer by George Edward Alcorn, Jr. (Born March 22, 1940)
George Edward Alcorn Jr. was born on March 22, 1940 to Arletta Dixon Alcorn in Indianapolis, Indian, he invented an X-ray Spectrometer. He was involved with the computer analysis of launch trajectories and orbital mechanics for Rockwell missiles like the Titan 1 and 2, the Saturn and the Nova
George Edward Alcorn, Jr. is a physicist whose work in the aerospace industry helped revolutionize astrophysics and semiconductor manufacturing. He is credited with 20 inventions, eight of which he received patents for. Perhaps his best-known innovation is for an x-ray spectrometer used to analyze distant galaxies and other deep-space phenomena, which he patented in 1984. Alcorn’s research into plasma etching, for which he received a patent in 1989, is still used in the production of computer chips, also known as semiconductors.
What their invention or inventions was/were: X-Ray Spectrometer For Distant Galaxies And 19 Others
Additional information: George is best known as the inventor of the Imagining X-Ray Spectrometer. This would ultimately earn him the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Inventor of the Year in 1984.
George was born in March of 1940 who would later earn his B.A. in Physics in 1962, a Masters in 1963 and Ph.D. in 1967. He would spend a large portion of his career at NASA. Alcorn has around 20 other inventions to his name too
Benjamin Banneker (Nov. 9, 1731-Oct. 9, 1806)
Benjamin Banneker was a self-educated astronomer, mathematician, and farmer. He was among a few hundred free African Americans living in Maryland, where enslavement was legal at the time. Despite having little knowledge of timepieces, among his many accomplishments, Banneker is perhaps best known for a series of almanacs he published between 1792 and 1797 that contained detailed astronomical calculations of his, as well as writings on topics of the day. Banneker also had a small role in helping to survey Washington D.C. in 1791.
Invention of ladder scaffold support (patented August 5, 1879) by Bailes, William
Invented the HAME attachment in 1891. Bailes, William: Invented a ladder scaffold support (patented August 5, 1879).
Invention of an instrument for measuring degrees of heat higher than those recorded by a mercurial thermometer by Baltimore, Jeremiah Daniel
Baltimore, Jeremiah Daniel: Invented the Pyrometer. An Instrument for measuring degrees of heat higher than those recorded by a mercurial thermometer.
Invention of a derrick for hoisting heavy weights invented by Benton, J. W.
Invented a derrick for hoisting heavy weights. Walked from Kentucky to Washington to obtain his patent, on October 2, 1900.
A derrick is a lifting device composed at minimum of one guyed mast, as in a gin pole, which may be articulated over a load by adjusting its guys. Most derricks have at least two components, either a guyed mast or self-supporting tower, and a boom hinged at its base to provide articulation, as in a stiffleg derrick.
Invention of a railroad signal by Blackburn, A. B.
Invented a railroad signal, used to alert engineer in trains to danger along the route (Patented 1888).
Invention of the corn planting machine by Blair, Henry – U.S. patent (October 14, 1834).
Invented a corn planting machine. First black man to receive a U.S. patent (October 14, 1834).
On October 14, 1834, Blair received his patent for his mechanical corn seed planter. Blair’s corn planter resembles a wheelbarrow with a chamber fixed to the bottom that disperses the seed. After the seed is dispersed, rakes attached to the back of the wheelbarrow drag over the seed to cover them with soil.
Invention of an Aerial torpedo by Blair, Joseph N. long range bombing (patented 1944).
Invented an aerial torpedo for long range bombing (patented 1944). Blair, Joseph N. Inventor (born 1904, died 1980). Mr. Blair invented a speedboat in 1942. He invented an aerial torpedo for long range bombing in 1944
Invention of self setting animal trap in 1881 by Campbell, W. S.
Invention of mechanical tabulator or adding machine by Davidson, Shelby J.
Davidson, Shelby J. Invented a mechanical tabulator or adding machine. He invented a paper rewinding device for a tabulating machine and an adding machine attachment for automatically adding in set amounts. Shelby Davidson’s Papers are at Howard University.
Golf T invented by Grand, George F.
George Franklin Grant (September 15, 1846 – August 21, 1910) was the first African-American professor at Harvard. He was also a Boston dentist, and an inventor of a wooden golf tee. George Grant, frustrated with this tedious and messy process, invented a wooden golf tee. Dr. Grant was born to escaped slaves in 1846, eventually finding work as an assistant at a dentist’s office.
Invention of Antenna Feed for Two Coordinate Tracking Radars by Lewis, James Earl
Lewis, James Earl Invented Antenna Feed for Two Coordinate Tracking Radars in 1968.
Martin, W. A. Invented a lock, that was an improvement over the 4,000 year old bolt invented by the Chinese
Martin, W. A.Invented a lock, that was an improvement over the 4,000 yearold bolt invented by the Chinese that could be fastened or unfastened from either side; a forerunner of modern door locks (Patented in 1889).
W. A. Martin, African American inventor, patented the lock (July 21, 1889). This was an improvement over the 4000–year–old bolt invented by the Chinese. Martin’s lock consisted of a cylinder and spiral spring, coiled around a metal pin (the forerunner of modern door locks).
Pickering, J. F. Invented an airship (dirigible). powered by an electric motor.
Pickering, J. F.Invented an airship (dirigible). powered by an electric motor. It was the first to have directional control; it was patented on February 20, 1900.
The first airship was developed in 1852 but was filled with hydrogen gas, which is very combustible. Invention. John F. Pickering invented the first airship (blimp) powered by an electric motor and directional controls.
Richardson, A. CInvented Casket lowering device (Patented in 1894
On November 13, 1894, Richardson patented the casket lowering device which consisted of a series of pulleys and ropes or cloths which ensured uniformity in the lowering process. This invention was very significant at that time and is used in all cemeteries today.
Richardson, W. H.Invented a leveler for a child’s baby carriage to prevent it from tipping over (Patented in 1889).
African American inventor William H. Richardson patented an improvement to the baby carriage in the United States on June 18, 1889. It is U.S. patent number 405,600. His design ditched the shell shape for a basket-shaped carriage that was more symmetrical. The bassinet could be positioned to face either out or in and rotated on a central joint.
A limiting device kept it from being rotated more than 90 degrees. The wheels also moved independently, which made it more maneuverable. Now a parent or nanny could have the child face them or face away from them, whichever they preferred, and change it at will.
The use of prams or baby carriages became widespread among all economic classes by the 1900s. They were even given to poor mothers by charitable institutions. Improvements were made in their construction and safety. Going for a stroll with a child was believed to have benefits by providing light and fresh air.
Rickman, A. L. Invented Rubberized shoe (Patented in 1898).
Rickman, A. L.Invented Rubberized shoe to act as covering to prevent feet from getting wet; forerunner of modern shoe rubbers (Patented in 1898).
Rillieux, Norbert Invented a sugar refining pan (Patented in 1846).
Norbert Rillieux invents the vacuum evaporatorRillieux’s invention revolutionised the processing of sugar. In 1846 he received a patent for a multiple-effect vacuum evaporator that turned sugar cane juice into a fine grade of white sugar crystals.
Robinson, Elbert R. Invented an electric trolley: using electricity in overhead wires to propel a passenger carrying vehicle (Patented in 1893).
19, 1893, Elbert R. Robinson received a patent for the electric highway trolley. The trolley was an important mode of transportation for that time. Robinson was a black inventor who is also credited with acquiring another patent for improving the railway system https://patents.google.com/patent/US505370A/en
Sampson, G. T. Invented a clothes dryer; forerunner of present day gas and electrc dryers (Patented in 1892).
An African in America inventor, George T. Sampson of Dayton, Ohio, came up with a better ventilator-type dryer. It had a rack and used heat from a stove, rather than an open fire. He was granted a patent for his invention in on June 7, 1892.
Scrottron, S. R. Invented curtain rod.
Scrottron, S. R.Invented curtain rod. A long metal tube open at each end to attach curtains to a supporting wall structure, no further need to nail curtains over windows (Patented in 1892). Samuel Raymond Scottron (ca. 1843-1905) Samuel Scottron was a inventor of the late 1800s, best known for his invention of the curtain rod. It is unclear if Scottron was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or New England in the years 1841 or 1843
Smith, P. D. Invented a potato digger which scopped the potatoes from the soil and left them exposed to be picked up (Patented in 1891).
P. D. Smith, inventor, patented the Potato Digger on this date in 1891. This instrument helped with efficiency and increased the harvest of potatoes. Patent # 445,206.
Standard, J. Invented a refrigerator
Standard, J. Invented a refrigerator, which used compressed air and ether as a coolant. (Patented in 1834). Invented Oil stove. (Patented in 1889). John Standard was an African American inventor from Newark, N.J., responsible for the patent on an improved refrigerator cooling system.
John Standard found a way to improve the existing design of refrigerators by developing a non-electrical and unpowered design Note 1740s. The first form of artificial refrigeration was invented by William Cullen, a Scottish scientist.
Stokes, Rufus Invented an air purification service
Stokes, Rufus Invented an air purification service to reduce to a safe level the gases and ash from furnace and power plant smoke (Patented in 1968).
“Rufus Stokes was an inventor born in Alabama in 1924. He later moved to Illinois, where he worked as a machinist for an incinerator company. In 1968, Rufus Stokes was granted a patent on an air–purification device to reduce the gas and ash emissions of furnace and powerplant smokestack emissions
Walker, Sarah Breedlove McWilliams Invented a metal heating comb and conditioner for straightening hair
Madam C.J. Walker. Photo courtesy A’Lelia Bundles/Madam Walker Family Collection. Most people who’ve heard of her will tell you one or two things: She was the first black millionairess, and she invented the world’s first hair-straightening formula and/or the hot comb.
In 1897, Andrew J. Beard invented an automatic car-coupling device
In 1897, Andrew Beard patented an improvement to railroad car couplers. His improvement came to be called the Jenny Coupler. It was one of many that aimed to improve the knuckle coupler patented by Eli Janney in 1873 (patent US138405).
In 1897, Andrew J. Beard invented an automatic car-coupling device, sold to a New York car company for $50,000. William H. Johnson invented a successful device dead center in motion—one for a compound engine and another for a water boiler. Joseph Lee patented 3 inventions for kneading dough. Brinay Smart invented a number of reverse valve gears. JW Benton invented a derrick for hoisting heavy weights. John T. Parker invented screws for tobacco presses. Henry A Bowman, after establishing a thriving business in a new way of making flags, a New York firm outstripped him by using his invention. Being unable to hire a competent attorney to protect his invention, he had to quit business. EA Robinson, suffering the same fate, invented a number of devices, such as the casting composite for car wheels, a trolley wheel, a railway switch, and a rail.
Patent Numbers: 478271, 594059
Patent Dates: 7/5/1892, 11/23/1897
AB Albert an African invented a cotton-picking machine
The apparatus involves in its make-up a pneumatic .cotton-picking conduit, which may consist of a tube or pipe, and it is one of the objects of the invention to provide cated is provided; forshould the suction be not sufficient to separate the cotton from the boll the means in question will do so in a satisfactory, efficient manner.
The conduit or pipe, to which I have referred, in practice will have directly associated therewith a fan, and the fan may be of any suitable character, adapted, when operated, to create suction through conduit or pipe for the purpose of drawing cotton thereinto and through the same.
B.F. JACKSON invented a heat apparatus
An African-American from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Received a patent for gas burner in 1899. The burner is a heating device that uses natural gas for fuel. Jackson also invented an improved heating apparatus, a matrix drying apparatus, and a steam boiler.
B.F. JACKSON invented a heat apparatus, a gas burner, an electrotyper’s furnace, a steam boiler, a trolley wheel controller, a tank signal, and a hydrocarbon burner system.
Allen, C. W. invention or inventions was/were: Self-Levelling Table
What their invention or inventions was/were: Self-Levelling Table
Patent Number: 613436
Patent Date: 11/1/1898
Allen, J. B. invention or inventions was/were: Clothes Line Support
What their invention or inventions was/were: Clothes Line Support
Bailey, L. C. invented a Combined Truss And Bandage, Folding Bed, Shampoo Headrest
What their invention or inventions was/were: Combined Truss And Bandage, Folding Bed, Shampoo Headrest
Patent Number: 285545, 629286
Patent Date: 9/25/1883, 7/18/1899
Additional information: Leonard was born in 1825 into poverty and physically disabled. He would go on to receive various patents for his inventions.
Bailey also invented the rapid mail-stamping machine, a device to shunt trains to different tracks, and a hernia truss that was adopted by the United States Military. Leonard died in 1905.
Ballow, W. J. invented a Combined Hat Rack And Table
What their invention or inventions was/were: Combined Hat Rack And Table
Patent Numbers: 601422
Patent Dates: 4/29/1898
Banneker, Benjamin invented Astronomical Almanac
What their invention or inventions was/were: Astronomical Almanac The almanac included information on medicines and medical treatment and listed tides, astronomical information, and eclipses that Banneker had calculated. He published the journal annually from 1791 to 1802. On August 19, 1791, Banneker sent a copy of his first almanac to then secretary of state Thomas Jefferson.
Bath, Patricia invented the The Cataract Laserphaco Probe
Additional information: Patricia was born in Harlem and would go on to become a pioneer ophthalmologist, inventor, and academic who is known for inventing a tool and procedure for the removal of cataracts using a laser beam called the Laserphaco Probe.
She was born in 1942 in New York as the daughter of the first African-American motorman to work in NYC subway. Patricia would show an early interest and ability for science at a young age. This passion would drive her onwards and upwards.
She would eventually become the first African-American to complete a residency in ophthalmology and the first female appointed to the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles.
Becket, G. E. invented the Letter Box
By 1890, hundreds of cities delivered mail to residents’ homes, thus leading to a need for mailboxes. While not the earliest, in 1892, George E. Becket, of Providence, R.I., was granted a patent for his “house-door letter–box,” an improved mail slot that was permanently mounted on the front door of a house.
What their invention or inventions was/were: Letter Box
Patent Number: 483325
Patent Date: 10/4/1892
Bell, Landrow inventions was/were: Broom Moisteners And Bridles, Dough Kneader
What their invention or inventions was/were: Broom Moisteners And Bridles, Dough Kneader
Patent Numbers: 115153, 133823
Patent Dates: 5/23/1871, 12/10/1872
Benjamin, L. W. inventions was/were: Broom Moisteners And Bridles
What their invention or inventions was/were: Broom Moisteners And Bridles
Additional information: Sarah Boone was born in 1832 in North Carolina who would go on to develop a special type of ironing board. Her invention was made from a narrow wooden board that had collapsible legs with the entire device having a padded cover.
Prior to this invention, the most common solution was a simple plank of wood placed across a pair of chairs.
Additional information: Otis Boykin was born in Dallas, Texas on August 29, 1920. After his invention of the control unit for pacemakers, he would ironically die from a heart attack in 1982.
Boykin would graduate from Fisk College, Tennessee in 1941 and later took up work at in 1945 P.J. Nilsen Research Laboratories to fund further studies at Illinois Institute of Technology. He dropped out two years later and started his own business in 1947.
Additional information: Benjamin was born a slave in 1830 and was taught to read and write by his master’s children. He would show a talent for invention and later devised the first steam engine for a ship.
Showing a great natural talent for invention, his master referred him to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland to take up a position as an assistant in their Science Department. It was here that he developed his own design for a steam engine.
Being a slave he was not able to patent his invention – he did sell the rights to it, however, and bought his own freedom.
Additional information: Henry patented his invention for storing and preserving documents and valuables in 1886. Brown’s invention was, later on, improved to evolve into what is known today as a strongbox.
32. Brown, Lincoln F.
What their invention or inventions was/were: Bridle Bit
Additional information: Marie V. B. Brown was born in 1922 into the crime-ridden neighborhood of Queens, NYC. Her experiences in her youth would ultimately lead her to develop an early form CCTV.
Marie and her partner, Albert Brown, who was an electronics technician, applied for a patent for their invention on August 1, 1966. Their patent was filed for their Home Security System Utilizing Television Surveillance, a closed circuit television system, known today as CCTV system.
Their patent was granted on December 2, 1969.
34. Burr, John
What their invention or inventions was/were: Lawn Mower
35. Burridge & Marshman
What their invention or inventions was/were: Typewriter
Additional information: George was born a slave in Missouri between 1860 and 1865 (not exact records exist) during the Civil War. He would later devise over 300 different uses for peanuts, including cooking oil, printer’s ink, and axle grease.
George earned his Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science from Iowa State in 1894 which he followed up with a masters in 1896. He received the 1923 Spingarn Medal and was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Additional information: Alfred L. Cralle was a Black American inventor and businessman. He is best known for his invention of the ice cream scoop. Cralle was born on the 4th September 1866 in Virginia.
He never acquired a formal education beyond basic schooling as a child. He worked various odd jobs and he would devise the idea for his scoop whilst working at a hotel in Pittsburgh where he noticed how much difficulty people were having serving ice cream with spoons and ladles alone. He was tragically killed during a car accident in 1920.
Additional information: Martha DeLeon was the second African-American woman to receive and patent for her invention. Her invention was an early precursor of the steam tables that we see at food buffets worldwide today.
Additional information: Little is known about Ellen Eglin except she was born in 1849 and worked as a housekeeper and is the inventor of a mechanical clothes wringer.
Afraid that no-one would buy the invention because of her ethnicity she sold her invention for pennies in 1888. She later died in 1890 and never received any recognition for her device in her lifetime.
What their invention or inventions was/were: Guitar
83. Grant, George, F.
What their invention or inventions was/were: Golf Tee
Additional information: George was an African America dentist, academic, and inventor. He is famed for being the first Black American professor at Harvard and developing the “Perfectum Golf Tee”.
He was born in 1846 in Oswego, New York, to former slaves. George was also famed for being the first Black American professor at Harvard University and became the President of the University’s Dental Association.
George died in 1910 from liver disease.
84. Goode, Sarah E.
What their invention or inventions was/were: Cabinet Bed
Patent Number: 322177
Patent Date: 7/14/1885
Additional information: Sarah was the second of seven children and was born into slavery in 1855. She was freed at the end of Civil War, and she went on to become the fourth African-American to be awarded a patent.
It was in Chicago where Sarah met her husband, Archibald Goode, a carpenter, and stair builder. Possessing an entrepreneurial spirit, Sarah opened a furniture store.
It was here that she conceived of her revolutionary bed design after hearing complaints from the neighborhood about bed sizes in their crowded homes. Sarah died on April 8, 1905, in Chicago at the age of 50.
Additional information: Lloyd Hall was a Black American inventor, chemist, and scientist. He is best known for his work on food preservation techniques. Hall was born in 1894 in Elgin, Illinois, and earned his degree in B.Sc. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry in 1916.
He would later take up employment at Griffith’s Laboratories where he would devise his new techniques for food preservation. Hall died in 1971.
Additional information: Dr. Betty Harris is an American organic analytical chemist, a leading expert in explosives, environmental remediation, and hazardous waste treatment. She was awarded a patent for her TATB spot test, which identifies explosives in a field environment.
She was born in July 1940 in rural Louisiana and was one of 12 children. Harris later earned her Bachelor’s in Chemistry in 1961 and her Master’s in 1963 followed by her Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1973.
98. Harvey, M.C
What their invention or inventions was/were: Lantern
99. Hawkins, Joseph
What their invention or inventions was/were: Gridiron
Additional information: Walter was born in 1911 and whilst working at AT & T, he devised and patented a new polymer plastic cable sheath for cables. Walter was fascinated by how things worked at a young age and even built his own spring-driven toy boats and working radio in his youth.
After graduating, he began a lifetime’s career at Bell Labs. He finally retired in 1976 and began teaching science and engineering.
Additional information: Thomas was born in 1791 as a freeman who successfully developed a means of cleaning clothes with a technique called dry scouring. Thomas apprenticed as a tailor in his youth with part of his services being providing dry-cleaning services to clients.
Later on, he created his own business as a tailor and dry-cleaner and became highly respected by his local community. He used his early profits to buy his wife’s and children’s freedom.
Additional information: James Maceo West is a prolific American inventor and professor best-known for the invention of an early microphone called the electroacoustic transducer electret microphone (ETEM).
He holds over 250 other patents as well. He was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia in 1931. James would later graduate from Temple University in 1957 with a degree in Physics. He then began a lifetime career at Bell Labs as full-time acoustical scientist.
139. Marishane, Ludwick
What their invention or inventions was/were: Dry Bath
Additional information: Jan was born in 1852 in Paramaribo in Dutch Guiana. After experimenting with different designs, Jan Matzeliger invented a shoe lasting machine that adjusted the shoe leather upper snugly over the mold.
Jan was born in 1852 as a son of Surinamese and Dutch parents in Paramaribo in Dutch Guiana (now called Suriname). He showed interest in mechanics from a young age and later on in life started work at a shoe factory in 1877 – it was here that he conceived of his invention.
Additional information: Elijah McCoy was born in 1844 in Ontario, Canada. His family was one of the few families who was successfully relocated to Canada by the Underground Railroad organization, and later on, their family became very successful.
His parents worked hard and saved money until they had enough put together to send him to Scotland to learn Mechanical Engineering in an apprenticeship. He returned to the U.S. and lead a highly successful career as an engineer.
Additional information: Benjamin was born into slavery in 1837. Later on in his life, he developed a special propeller design especially for dealing with shallow waters. Whilst a young slave, he attempted to escape but was recaptured.
His master was deeply disturbed by his attempted escape and after some negotiation gave Ben some senior responsibilities at his master’s plantation. He was later freed, bought his former master’s plantation and become a successful businessman.
Additional information: Garrett Morgan was a Black American inventor and community leader. He famously rescued workers trapped within a water intake tunnel in 1916 and was a prolific inventor.
Repairing sewing machines inspired him to make his first invention, a belt fastener for sewing machines. In 1907, he opened his own sewing machine and shoe repair shop. This would grow and expand into the Morgan’s Cut Rate Ladies Clothing Store in 1909 which had 32 employees.
Additional information: Samuel R. Scottron was a Black American inventor and entrepreneur. He was a prominent member of Brooklyn’s Black Elite community and is best known as the inventor of the Scottron’s Improved Mirror.
He worked as a barber with his father in his early years who later worked as a merchant during the civil war. Postwar he opened a series of grocery shops and a barber shop in Springfield.
It was with his barber venture that he conceived of his famed mirror and other inventions. His devices would eventually make him a wealthy man.
Additional information: Valerie Thomas is an accomplished African-American scientist and inventor who patented the illusion transmitter and contributed greatly to NASA research.
She was born in May 1943 in Maryland and quickly showed an aptitude and fascination for technology at a young age. She later graduated from Morgan State University and became one of only two women to major in Physics there.
She later began a lifelong career at NASA in 1964.
Additional information: Joseph Winters was a Black American abolitionist and inventor. He is best known for his patent for a wagon-mounted fire escape ladder.
He was also an active member in the Underground Railroad movement in the United States. Joseph developed his ladders whilst noting the trouble fireman had unloading and raising their ladders from wagons. Joseph died in 1916 at the age of 100.
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