By Torilynn Qualls |Staff Writer|
We must thank and remember the great African American minds who created some of the world’s most important technological advancements.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the great contributions African American made not only in social reform but in technological advancements as well.
In 1881 Lewis Latimer invented an electric lamp with an inexpensive carbon filament and a threaded wooden socket for light bulbs.
According to the Smithsonian Institute, “Latimer was also responsible for preparing the mechanical drawings for Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone design.”
Without Latimer’s contributions to technology, simple tasks we partake in everyday, such as turning on a light switch or making a quick phone call wouldn’t be possible.
The digital age as we know it would cease to exist; we wouldn’t be able to use a light switch, much less send a text message.
Without the proper safety gear first created by Garrett Morgan, firefighters and military agents today wouldn’t be able to easily attempt rescue missions or distinguish wild flames due to toxic gases they would have to ingest.
Morgan invented the safety hood, more commonly known as the gas mask. His early invention was just a canvas hood with two tubes connecting to a device worn on the back which filtered smoke outward, while cooling the air inside, according to PBS.org.
Morgan sold his safety hoods to the US Navy, and the Army even used his invention in World War I.
He patented a mechanical traffic signal in 1923, which he sold to General Electric. According to PBS.org, Morgan earned only $40,000 for the invention.
Without the traffic signal, transportation would be more dangerous, there would be no progress, and mortality rates on the roads would rise.
Frederick McKinley Jones created a successful mobile refrigeration system, which was a compressor mounted under a trailer that was powered by a four-cylinder engine.
“Jones’ invention was used in trucks, railroad cars, ships and planes,” states the National Inventors Hall of Fame. “Jones’ technology revolutionized the distribution of food and other perishables, made fresh produce available anywhere in the country year-round, and changed Americans’ eating habits.”
Jones’ refrigeration system has enabled California to be one of the top produce distributors in the world.
Mobile refrigeration allows California’s fresh strawberries, oranges, grapes, cheeses, and milk to travel across the country and arrive fresh on tables throughout America.
Jan Ernst Matzeliger developed a shoe lasting machine which more than doubled manual shoe production processes.
According to biography.com, Matzeliger’s lasting machine increased the availability of shoes and decreased the price of foot wear.
Matzeliger’s invention is a direct contribution to wide scale foot wear production factories all across the globe.
Without the lasting machine’s designs, companies like Nike and Adidas wouldn’t be a world-wide brand, because they wouldn’t have enough products to satisfy a wide scale market if they relied solely on manual production.
George Washington Carver created over 100 products, such as dyes and plastics, using the peanut. However, he is most prominently accredited for inventing peanut butter, according to biography.com.
Contrary to popular belief, Carver didn’t actually “invent” peanut butter, however, he did play a very important role in popularizing peanut butter in the 1880s due to his many peanut related creations.
Carver used peanuts to create gasoline fuel, lamp oil, printer’s ink, and laundry soap.
Carver’s advancements in botany and chemistry have paved the way for modern inventors to create sustainable and organic resources.
Without many of these great inventions life as we know it would not be the same. In honor of Black History month we celebrate the many African American inventors that have contributed to our world .