Too often I hear the uneducated proclaim “Black-people never invented anything! They never contributed ANYTHING to society or to THE WORLD!”
Since I have to explain things very simply for those people (in it’s most elementary form for them to understand) here is a SHORT list (they don’t have a very long attention span) of JUST 30 Black Inventors. There are PLENTY MORE out there—all of them with diverse backgrounds! Knowledge is Everything! Enjoy!

                             30 Black Inventors!

1. Elijay McCoy: Invented an oil-dripping cup for trains!


2. Lewis Latimer: Invented the carbon-filament for light-bulbs!


3. Garret Morgan: Invented the three-position traffic signal and the gas-mask!


4. Otis Boykin:  Invented an electronic control devices for guided missiles, IBM computers, and the pacemaker!


5. Dr. Patricia. E. Bath: Discovered and invented a new device and technique for cataract eye-surgery, known as Laserphaco!


6.Lonnie G. Johnson: Invented the world-famous watergun—the Supersoaker!


7.George Alcorn: Invented the Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer!


8. Benjamin Banneker: Invented the first striking clock!


9. Charles Richard Drew: Invented the first blood bank!


10. Frederick McKinley Jones: Invented portable air-cooling units for trucks carrying perishable goods!


11. Alfred L. Cralle: Invented the Ice Cream Scoop!


12. Alexander Miles: Invented an Electric Elevator Door!


13. George Carruthers: Invented the first Image Converter for Detecting Electromagnetic Radiation!


14. David Crosthwait: Invented Heating and Cooling Installations!


15. Henry Blair: Invented the Cotton Planter!


16. Benjamin Bradley: Invented the first working Steam-Engine for war ships!


17. Charles Brooks: Invented the Street-Sweeper!


18. John Lee Love: Invented the Portable Pencil Sharpener!


19. Bessie Blount Griffin: Invented the Electronic Feeding Tube!


20. Donald Cotton: Invented Propellants for Nuclear Reactors!


21. Rondal Demon: Invented the ‘Smart-Shoe’, whose cushion support automatically adjusts to the wearers foot!


22. Meredith C. Gourdine: Invented Electrogasdynamics Systems!


23. Norbert Rillieux: Invented the Sugar Processing Evaporator!


24. Henry Sampson: Invented a Gamma-Electrical Cell!


25. Jerry Shelby: Invented an Engine Protection System for Recoverable Rocket Boosters!


26. Rufus Stokes: Invented an Air Exhaust Purifier!


27. Joseph Winters: Invented the Fire Escape Latter!


28. Granville T. Woods: Invented the Auto Cut-Off Switch!


29. George Sampson: Invented the Dryer Machine!


30.Sarah Goode: Invented the Folding Cabinet bed!



July 10, 1856: Nikola Tesla is born.

This Serbian-American inventor arrived in the United States in 1884, working first for Thomas Edison, with whom he would soon develop a very poor relationship. In 1885, Edison promised Tesla $50,000 if he could redesign and improve his DC generators. Tesla accomplished what was asked of him, but Edison, when confronted with the promise, supposedly replied: “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor." Enraged, Tesla quit. In the late 80s, they butted heads once more in the War of the Currents, during which Edison actively attempted to discredit Tesla’s (admittedly more efficient) alternating current electricity distribution system. Tesla won out in the end, and it was his system that lit up the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair over Edison’s. Both scientists were potential laureates for the Nobel Prize in 1915, but neither ever won - possibly because neither would accept the prize if the other won first.

At the turn of the century, Tesla continued with his electrical experiments, even attempting to build a facility that would not only function as a wireless telecommunications tower, but transmit electricity for all without the need for wires. That project collapsed, however, as his financiers began to back out and cheaper alternatives appeared. The nature of his work became more and more eccentric as the years went by (his claims of having invented a “death ray” are a notable example), and soon, he came to resemble a sort of proto-mad scientist. Though he lived the later years of his life penniless and in debt, Tesla was a mostly-respected figure all the way until his death in 1943. In his eulogy, the mayor of New York called him “a great humanitarian, a pure scientific genius, a poet in science.

Pictured: Tesla sits in his lab in Colorado Springs.

Hello, Can you hear me? Can you hear me at all? Gotta get the operator and make a telephone call!

To think in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell would invent something that today we couldn’t imagine being without: our telephones. We found this precious gem in our Digital Gallery of Bell opening a phone line from New York to Chicago…wow how times have changed. Now, within seconds we can send a message across the world and back again. 

So, this week’s Mustache Monday goes to Mr. Bell, who on March 7, 1876 received a patent for the telephone. Without him, we would not be completely absorbed in the smartphone phenomenon. Siri would not tell us how to get places, apps would not entertain us as we sit in meetings all day, and most importantly it would not allow us to communicate—without actually communicating! 

(**bonus points for those who understand the 1980s reference above)


Elias Howe, b. July 9 1819, patented the first practical sewing machine in 1846. Though he wasn’t the first to have the idea, his “lock stitch” machine was the first to be mass produced. Unfortunately, Howe’s machine didn’t sell very well, and it wasn’t until a guy named Singer (and another named Wilson) infringed on his patent and improved upon his design that the sewing machine really caught on.

Images above from a 1867 Howe step-feed sewing machine catalog.
We have plenty more sewing machine catalogs in our trade literature collection.

Ada Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852)

Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, also known as the “Enchantress of Numbers.”

Why She Kicks Ass:

  • She produced a design for a flying machine in 1828 – when she was only 13.
  • She was a kickass mathematician in a time when it was considered literally dangerous to a woman’s health to know too much about math.
  • She published a translation of an article on the Analytical Engine by Luigi Menabrea, adding extensive notes of her own while doing so.
  • She is considered by many to be the world’s first computer programmer, thanks to her work assisting Charles Babbage. If Charles Babbage is the father of computers, Ada Lovelace is the mother of them.
  • She speculated on the possibilities of computers for general purpose uses, beyond acting as simply fancy calculators, which ol’ Chuck Babbage did not.

Oh, and she just happened to be the daughter of Lord Byron, who called her his “princess of parallelograms.”