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Significant Inventions By Black Americans

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posted on Feb, 25 2003 @ 12:36 PM
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Here are just a smattering of great inventions and contributions to modern civilization and technological progress by black people...

Otis Boykin invented an improved electrical resistor used in computers - radios - television sets and a variety of electronic devices. Boykin's resistor helped reduce the cost of those products.

Otis Boykin also invented a variable resistor used in guided missile parts, a control unit for heart stimulators, a burglar-proof cash register and a chemical air filter.

After graduating from Fisk University and the Illinois Institute of Technology, Otis Boykin worked in a laboratory testing automatic controls for airplanes. He later worked as a consultant for several firms and as a successful inventor. Boykin died of a heart failure in 1982.


Charles Brooks invented a street sweeper truck and patented it on March 17, 1896. Historically, prior to Brooks' truck, streets were commonly cleaned by walking workers, picking up by hand or broom, or by horse-drawn machines. Brooks' truck had brushes attached to the front fender which pushed trash to the curb.

Brooks also patented an early paper punch, also called a ticket punch. It was the first ticket punch to have a built-in receptacle on one of the jars to collect the round pieces of waste paper and prevent littering.


Benjamin Banneker was a scientist, astronomer, inventor, writer and antislavery publicist. Banneker
created the first American built striking clock, invented the first Farmers' Almanac and actively campaigned against slavery.

Banneker was educated by Quakers and quickly revealed to the world his inventive nature. Benjamin
Banneker first achieved national acclaim for his scientific work in the 1791 survey of the Federal Territory (now Washington, D.C.). In 1753, he built the first watch made in America, a wooden pocket watch. Twenty years later, Banneker began making astronomical calculations that enabled him to successfully forecast a 1789 solar eclipse. His estimate, made well in advance of the celestial event, contradicted predictions of better-known mathematicians and astronomers.


Agricultural chemist, George Washington Carver invented three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds
more uses for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. Countless products we enjoy today come to us by the way of Carver. Only three patents were every issued to him, but among his listed discoveries are: adhesives, axle grease, bleach, buttermilk, chili sauce, fuel briquettes, ink, instant coffee, linoleum, mayonnaise, meat tenderizer, metal polish, paper, plastic, pavement, shaving cream, shoe polish, synthetic rubber, talcum powder and wood stain. And peanut butter!

George Carruthers has gained international recognition for his work which focuses on ultraviolet observations of the earth's upper atmosphere and of astronomical phenomena. Ultraviolet light is the electromagnetic radiation between visible light and x-rays. George Carruthers first major contribution to science was to lead the team that invented the far ultraviolet camera spectrograph.

He developed the first moon-based space observatory, an ultraviolet camera that was carried to the moon by Apollo 16 astronauts in 1972. The camera was positioned on the moon's surface and allowed researchers to examine the Earth's atmosphere for concentrations of pollutants.

John Christian was working as an Air Force, Materials Research, Engineer, when he invented and patented new lubricants, used in high flying aircraft and NASA space missions. The lubricants worked well under a wider temperature range than previous products, from minus 50 to 600 degrees. They were used in the helicoptor fuel lines, astronaut's back-pack life support systems, and in the four-wheel drive of the "moon-buggy".


Charles Drew researched blood plasma and transfusions in New York City. It was during his work at
Columbia University where he made his discoveries relating to the preservation of blood. By separating the liquid red blood cells from the near solid plasma and freezing the two separately, he found that blood could be preserved and reconstituted at a later date.

Mark Dean and his co-inventor Dennis Moeller created a microcomputer system with bus control means for peripheral processing devices. Their invention paved the way for the growth in the information technology industry. We can plug into our computers peripherals like disk drives, video gear, speakers, and scanners.


Nigerian born Dr. Philip Emeagwali first entered the limelight in 1989 when he won the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize for his work with massively parallel computers. He programmed the Connection Machine to compute a world record 3.1 billion calculations per second using 65,536 processors to simulate oil reservoirs. With over 41 inventions submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Emeagwali is making big waves in the supercomputer industry, amazing achievements only surpassed by an even more amazing life.
inventors.about.com...

Fred McKinley Jones was one of the most prolific Black inventors ever. Jones patented more than sixty inventions, however, he is best known for inventing an automatic refrigeration system for long-haul trucks in 1935 (a roof-mounted cooling device). Jones was the first person to invent a practical, mechanical refrigeration system for trucks and railroad cars, which eliminated the risk of food spoilage during long-distance shipping trips. The system was, in turn, adapted to a variety of other common carriers, including ships. Jones was issued the patent on July 12, 1940 (#2,303,857).
inventors.about.com...

George Crum - 1853 - The Potato Chip

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams - 1893 - Heart Surgery

Seargant Adolphus Samms - 1958-1967 - Invented various systems for space travel including:
Parachute release mechanism
Rocket engine pump feed system
Air frame center support (eliminates need for second and third stage engines)
Multiple stage rocket
Air breathing booster
Emergency release for extraction chute mechanism
Rocket motor fuel feed system

William D. Harwell. "I work for NASA/Johnson Space Center, where I am employed as a Mechanical Engineer. As such, I designed the hardware for and jointly hold patent #'s 5,368,090 (Nov, 1994) -- Geometrical Vapor Blocker for Parallel Condensation Tubes Requiring Subcooling; 4,921,292 (May 1990) -- Magnetic Attachment Mechanism and; 4,664,344 (May 1987) -- Apparatus and Method of Capturing an Orbiting Spacecraft."






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