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Inventions by Black People that You Can’t Live Without

todayFebruary 23, 2022 59

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By Jemia Spence
Web Content Contributor

Black innovators have changed the way we live through their contribution of inventions. You’ve heard of famous inventions like the light bulb, the cotton gin, and the phone. However, there are many other overlooked inventions by black people that make our daily lives easier.

Three-Light Traffic Signal, Invented by Garrett Morgan in 1923

With just an elementary school education Black Inventor, Garrett Morgan, invented the improved traffic light. His invention was one of the first three-light systems invented in the 1920s after witnessing a severe car accident at an intersection in Cleveland, Ohio. He then decided to add a “yield” warning drivers to slow down and stop at the upcoming red light. He took out the patent in 1923 and it was granted the following year. Morgan invented several other significant inventions, such as the gas mask, and the improved sewing machine. However, the Traffic signal was one of Morgan’s most influential.

Automatic Elevator Doors, Invented by Alexander Miles in 1887

Before the creation of elevators people had to commit to long and tiring climbs up several flights of stairs or ride a lift which was both complicated and risky. Before automatic doors, people had to manually shut both the shaft and elevator doors before riding and forgetting to do so led to multiple accidents and injuries, as people fell down elevator shafts.

When the daughter of Alexander Miles, black inventor of the automatic doors, almost fatally fell down the shaft, he developed a solution. He invented the mechanism that automatically opens and closes elevator shaft doors and took out a patent in 1887. His designs are a large reflection in the elevators we use today.

Refrigerated Trucks, Invented by Fedrick McKinley Jones in 1940

Fredrick McKinley Jones, later known as Thermo King, invented the roof-mounted cooling system that is used to refrigerate goods on trucks during extended transportation in the mid-1930s. He received a patent for his invention in 1940. He co-founded the U.S. Thermo Control Company. The company was crucial during WWII, helping to preserve blood, food and supplies during the war.

Home Security System, Co-invented by Mary Van Brittan Brown in 1966

After spending many nights home alone in Queens, New York while her husband was away, Mary Van Brittan Brown devised an early security unit for her home because she felt unsafe with the high rates of crime in her neighborhood. She created the device to help ease her mind because the police were unreliable and unresponsive.

In 1966, Brown invented a system that used a camera. The camera’s view would appear on a monitor in her house so she could see any potentially unwanted guests. She then added other features such as a microphone to speak at anyone at the door, a button to unlock the door, and an emergency button to contact the police. Brown and her husband then took out a patent for the system in 1966 and were awarded the patent three years later in 1969. Most of the home security systems used today took various elements from her design.

Featured Image by Jemia Spence

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