101 Facts About African American History

 

Inventions & Distractions Record Breaking Little Known Firsts

Inventions & Discoveries

Fact #1

Elijah McCoy (1843 – 1929) invented an automatic lubricator for oiling steam engines in 1872. The term "the real McCoy" is believed to be a reference about the reliability of Elijah McCoy’s invention.

Fact #2

Garrett Augustus Morgan (1877 – 1963) invented, among many other things, a 3-way automatic stop sign, which he sold to General Electric. It was used in the U.S. until the 3-light traffic sign was developed.

Fact #3

Otis Boykin (1920 -1982) invented electronic control devices for guided missiles, IBM computers, and the control unit for a pacemaker.

Fact #4

George Carruthers (1939 – ) invented the far ultraviolet electrographic camera, used in the 1972 Apollo 16 mission. This invention revealed new features of Earth’s far-outer atmosphere and deep-space objects from the perspective of the lunar surface. Carruthers was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame in 2003.

Fact #5

James West’s (1931 – ) research in sound technology led to the development of foil-electret transducers used in 90% of all microphones built today and in most new telephones being manufactured. West holds 47 U.S. and more than 200 foreign patents on microphones and techniques for making polymer foil-electrets. He was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame in 1999.

Fact #6

Mark Dean (1957 – ) along with his co-inventor Dennis Moelle created a microcomputer system with bus control means for peripheral processing devices. This invention allows the use of computer plug-ins like disk drives, speakers, scanners, etc…

Fact #7

George T. Sampson invented a clothes dryer that used heat from a stove in 1892.

Fact #8

Frederick Jones (1892 – 1961) held over 60 patents with most of them pertaining to refrigeration. His portable air conditioner was used in World War II to preserve medicine and blood serum.

Fact #9

Granville Woods (1856 – 1910) invented numerous devices relating to the railroad including a system of overhead electric conducting lines, air brakes and a telegraph system that allowed communication between moving trains.

Fact #10

Lewis Temple (1800 – 1854) revolutionized the whaling industry with his invention of the toggle harpoon in 1848.

Fact #11

Dr. Charles Drew (1904 – 1950) discovered techniques to store blood and developed blood banks.

Fact #12

Thomas J. Martin patented a fire extinguisher in 1872.

Fact #13

Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852 – 1889) invented the Shoe Lasting machine, which connected the upper part of the shoe to the sole, a painstaking process that was usually done by hand. This invention revolutionized the shoe making industry.

Fact #14

Lewis Howard Latimer invented the carbon filament for light bulbs in 1881.

Fact #15

Joseph Winters invented a fire escape ladder in 1878.

Fact #16

Lonnie G. Johnson (1949 – ), an engineer who performed spacecraft system design for NASA, invented the Super Soaker water gun – the number one selling toy in America in 1991.

Fact #17

Alexander Miles of Duluth, Minnesota patented an electric elevator in 1887 with automatic doors that would close off the shaft way, thus making elevators safer.

Fact #18

Andrew Jackson Beard (1849 – 1921) invented the "Jenny Coupler" which allowed train cars to hook themselves together when they are bumped into one another. The device is still used today.

Fact #19

John Love invented the pencil sharpener in 1897.

Fact #20

Sarah E. Goode (1850 – ? ) invented a bed that folded up into a cabinet in 1885. Contrary to popular belief, she was not the first African-American woman to receive a patent, but the second.

Fact #21

C.B. Brooks invented the street sweeper in 1896. It was a truck equipped with brooms.

Fact #22

L.P. Ray invented the dustpan in 1897.

Fact #23

Henry Brown created what is now known as a "strongbox", a metal container to store money and important papers that could be locked with a key in 1886.

Fact #24

Joseph Lee (1849 – 1905) invented a bread-making machine that mixed the ingredients and kneaded the dough in 1895.

Fact #25

Henry Blair (1807 – 1860), the second African-American to receive a patent, invented a corn seed planter in 1834 and a cotton planter in 1836. Blair could not read or write and signed his patent with an X.

Fact #26

David Crosthwait Jr. (1898 – 1979) an expert on heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, holds 39 U.S. patents and 80 international patents pertaining to heating, refrigeration and temperature regulating systems. Crosthwait created the heating system for New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

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