Originating in the United States and now recognized in a number of countries around the world, Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by Black Americans as well as a time to recognize their central role in history. In honor of Black History Month, we wanted to spotlight a number of Black inventors and their innovations that forever changed our everyday lives.
Marie Van Brittan Brown
Marie Van Brittan Brown was both an inventor and a nurse. She was born in Queens, New York, and resided there all her life. Maria and her husband, Albert Brown, both worked long, off-hours which raised concern with the high crime rate in Queens at the time. These growing concerns lead to the co-invention of the home security system. In 1966, Maria and her husband jointly applied for a patent, which was granted in 1969.
Garrett Morgan was born in Paris, Kentucky, on March 4, 1877. He was one of eleven children to mother, Elizabeth Reed, who was of Indian and African descent, and father, Sydney Morgan, a former slave who was freed in 1863. Garrett Morgan is responsible for several significant inventions, including a hair-straightening product and a gas mask used in WWI. However, Morgan’s most influential patent was improving the traffic light to include the yellow signal – alerting drivers to slow down.
Otis F. Boykin
Otis Frank Boykin was an American inventor and engineer. He patented more than 25 electronic devices, many of which were improved electrical resistors used in computers, radios, and televisions. However, Boykin’s most famous electrical resistor was a control unit for heart stimulators – paving the way for the artificial heart pacemaker used today.
Patricia Era Bath
Patricia Era Bath was an American inventor, ophthalmologist, humanitarian, and academic. Patricia is most famously known for her invention of laser cataract surgery. Dr. Bath was the first woman to chair an ophthalmology residency program in the United States.