Famous African-American Inventors

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Famous African-American Inventors

In this article, we will take a look at the contribution of African-American community in the field of science and technology.

The African-American community has produced numerous outstanding scientists and inventors. Read on to learn about a few of them. Some of the famous African-Americans are featured below.

Granville Woods

Granville was born on April 23, 1856 in Columbus, Ohio. He started developing his skills through a machinist and blacksmith apprenticeship in a machine shop. He taught himself electronics, and later worked in a mill. He also did a mechanical engineering course. Later he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and started his own machine shop. He and his brother Lyates founded the Woods Electrical Company. Granville was a talented electrician and an inventive genius. He patented over thirty-five mechanical and electrical inventions. Granville invented fifteen appliances for electric railways.

In 1884, he received his first patent for an improved steam boiler furnace. He patented the Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph in 1887, which made it possible to communicate between trains and between train stations from moving trains. This particular invention made train movements faster, and prevented a number of accidents and collisions. He also invented the electric incubator, which incubated fifty thousand eggs at a time. Granville died on January 30, 1910 in New York City.

George Washington Carver

Carver was born in 1864 in Missouri. He discovered 300 uses for peanuts, a crop with a poor reputation at the time. He developed the crop rotation method, which revolutionized Southern agriculture. He produced dyes of 500 different shades. He also invented a process for producing stains and paints from soybeans. He found hundreds of uses for sweet potatoes, pecans and soybeans.

Dr. Jocelyn Simpson

He co-developed a novel class of high performance piezoelectric polymers that had superior properties over conventional materials. A piezoelectric material generates electricity when pressure is applied to it. The inventors state that this new polymer technology may dramatically improve power generation by providing a new, low cost, environmentally safe source of electricity.

Annie Easley

Annie is a mathematician from Cleveland State University. She developed and implemented computer code used in determining energy, wind and solar projects for NASA. She has contributed to several NASA papers such as: ‘Effect of Turbulent Mixing on Average Fuel Temperatures in a Gas-core Nuclear Rocket Engine’, ‘Bleed Cycle: Propellant Pumping in a Gas-core Nuclear Rocket Engine System’ and ‘Performance and Operational Economics Estimated for a Coal Gasification Combined-Cycle Cogeneration Power Plant’.

John Henry Thompson

John earned a degree in Computer Science and Visual Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983. He invented lingo programming used in Macromedia Director and Shockwave. As chief scientist at Macromedia he developed a number of products including VideoWorks II, Macromedia Director, Action and The Videoworks Accelerator.

Dr. Percy Julian

Percy was born on April 11, 1899 in Montgomery, Alabama. He holds over 100 patents including two for synthesizing artificial hormones (progesterone and testosterone and cortisone). He also isolated a protein that became the basis for a fire-fighting solution in the Second World War. He died on April 19, 1975 in Chicago, Illinois.

Kenneth J. Dunkley

Kenneth discovered the existence of two points located on the periphery of a person’s vision that, if obstructed, will cause an ordinary picture to appear three-dimensional. This particular discovery led to the invention of the Three-Dimensional Viewing Glasses (3-DVG) which achieves 3-D effects without lenses, mirrors or optical elements of any kind.

Richard Spikes

Richard patented the following inventions:

  • automatic car washer
  • automobile directional signals
  • self-locking rack for billiard cues
  • combination milk bottle opener and cover
  • method and apparatus for obtaining average samples and temperature of tank liquids
  • improved automatic gear shift transmission and shifting thereof
  • multiple barrel machine gun
  • horizontally swinging barber chair

David Crosthwait

David was born in Nashville, Tennessee. He obtained a Master of Engineering degree from Purdue University in 1920. He received 39 patents for various devices including refrigeration methods, heating systems, vacuum pumps and processes and temperature regulating devices. His most outstanding creation was the heating system for New York’s famous Radio City Music Hall.

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