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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. 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. Every two seconds someone in the U. 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.

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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 before the Red Cross finally recognized all blood as being equal. Croak holds over patents, primarily in voice-over Internet protocol VoIP , some in other areas.

She has another patents currently under review. 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. Due to cost, Philip Emeagwali was forced to drop out of school at age As an adult, Emeagwali began studying nature, specifically bees. The construction of the honeycombed inspired him to rethink computer processing. Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr. Wilkins continued his studies there, earning bachelor, master, and eventually earning his doctorate degree in mathematics at the age of 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. 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.

In an effort to improve efficiency and eliminate the frequent stopping necessary for lubrication of trains, McCoy devised a method of automating the task. 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.

He remained active as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School for nearly 50 years. Despite all the recognition and awards, Amos was a truly modest human being. Very few of his colleagues and relatives were aware of the many honors he had received. The sculptor who worked on his bust had to rely on a photograph that was only obtained by subterfuge, because Amos refused to sit for him. The bust was placed in the Division of Medical Sciences graduate student lounge when it was named in his honor.


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Amos was one of those persons who are happy being active and productive. Notably, Harold kept the tradition that had made him famous with his former students. He encouraged them during the tenure of the program and even went the extra mile seeking alternative positions for those applicants who were not awarded fellowships. He encouraged and mentor all minorities and disadvantaged students to seek careers in academic medicine and science. Helping anyone at the beginning of their career was in Amos nature; he was known for collecting paintings and prints from emerging artists.

Harold Amos died in Boston on February 26, , due to complications after suffering a stroke. She created a home security system that became the first surveillance device in a long line of surveillance devices that continue to populate the security market today. The crime rate in her neighborhood in Queens was very high and police tend to have a slow response to emergency calls.

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Marie and her partner, Albert Brown, who was an electronics technician, applied for a patent for their invention on August 1, Marie was motivated to create an effective security system to protect herself and her own home when coming home back alone. She worked long and odd hours at day and night as a nurse. Her neighborhood in Queens was dangerous and police did not always respond quickly to calls. She created the first CCTV system to be used for the home monitor. Her inventions and patent evolved into all the advanced home security technology in use today.

Van Brittan Brown innovation included a set of four peepholes, a monitorized camera that could slide up and down to look out each one, monitors, as a two-way microphone, a remote-controlled operated door, and an alarm button.

Lost Histories of African American Inventors

When it was pressed, the alarm button would immediately connect to the police. Video of who was at the door and windows were sent to a receiver inside the home. Her invention allowed her to talk to visitors with an intercom and open the door remotely. The original patent was referenced by 13 other later inventions including some filed in Sarah Boone was an African-American known for inventing and patenting the iron board. In the 19th century, a woman who was an inventor was a rarity, let alone a female African-American inventor. Clothing was then fitted onto the board for ironing.

Before her invention, it was most common to use a plank of wood rested across a pair of chairs or tables and place the garments on it for ironing them with a device made of the iron. Sarah was living in New Haven, Connecticut, when the U. Patent and Trademark Office granted her patent number , for the ironing board on April 26, Janet Emerson was born on February 12, , to a working-class family.

Her father was a garbage collector and her mother was the first African-American woman emergency room nurse in Huntsville, Alabama, where the family had moved when Janet was a child. After marrying and becoming Janet Emerson Bashen relocating to Houston, Texas, she finished her degree in legal studies and government at the University of Houston. Jones Graduate School of Administration. When Bashen was working in the insurance industry after graduation, she called for the creation of third-party teams to investigate Equal Employment Opportunity EEO claims.

Basher argued that third-party investigators would be less subject to influence from either side in complaints. Her CEO did not listen. The Bashen Corporation acts as a third-party fact-finder if employees complain of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

This avoids costly and lengthy discrimination trials. After some time, storing and retrieving information related to the EEO cases became difficult. There was a need for a solution and in , Bashen, together with her cousin Donny Moore who is a computer scientist from Tufts University , developed a software that could be used to securely store information about her cases and called it LinkLine.

Patent and Trademark Office granted Bashen her patent in and she became the first African-American woman in the United States to hold a patent for a software invention. Ottumwa had 14, residents at the time including fewer than African-Americans. His family moved to Des Moines when Archie was 11, where his father became head custodian at the Des Moines National Bank, a prestigious post for his background.

The strong-willed and ambitious Alexander took on several part-time jobs and by he had saved enough to enroll himself in the college of engineering at the University of Iowa at age Alexander graduated from the State University of Iowa and became the first African-American engineering graduate in He was also the first African-American football player at his university. Alexander had to overcome discouraging words from the beginning of his studies and early career. The Ebony Magazine profiled Alexander in as an accomplished and wealthy African-American businessman.

Alexander started his own engineering company when he was His interracial business partnership with George F.

Higbee in was both unusual and successful. It was at this time when Alexander moved to London, England to continue his education at the University of London where he studied advanced bridge design and engineering. A few years later in , Alexander and Maurice A.

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Under this new partnership, they were in charge of the construction of the Whitehurst Parkway and the Tidal Basin Bridge in Washington, D. However, he resigned a year after due to critics accusing him of favoritism to old business partners despite Alexander being very well known for his directness and honesty.

Alexander died in Des Moines of a heart attack on January 4, , at Leonard C. Bailey was born in poor and with a physical disability. He overcame his obstacles and made a significant impact in the African-American community.


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Patent and Trademark office granted Leonard C. Bailey the patent number , for the Folding Bed on July 18, His invention was recommended and adopted by the United States Medical Board for tent and camping purposes. 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.