Here’s a list of Black inventors that you probably don’t know. I hope you enjoy this list, as I have enjoyed looking for the “unknown.”
Dr. Patricia Bath
Dr. Patricia Bath, an ophthalmologist from New York, but living in Los Angeles when she received her patent, became the first African American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical invention. Patricia Bath’s patent (no. 4,744,360), a method for removing cataract lenses, transformed eye surgery, using a laser device making the procedure more accurate (Cataract Laserphaco Probe). The probe, patented in 1988, is designed to use the power of a laser to quickly and painlessly vaporize cataracts from patients’ eyes, replacing the more common method of using a grinding, drill-like device to remove the afflictions. With another invention, Bath was able to restore sight to people who had been blind for over 30 years.
Dr. James E. West
Born in Prince Edward County, Virginia on February 10, 1931, James West attended Temple University and interned at Bell Labs during his summer breaks. Upon his graduation in 1957, he joined Bell Labs and began work in electroacoustics, physical acoustics, and architectural acoustics. James Edward West (along with Gerhard Sessler) patented (#3,118,022) the electret microphone in 1964 while working at Bell Laboratories.
James West holds 47 U.S. and more than 200 foreign patents on microphones and techniques for making polymer foil-electrets. He has authored more than 100 papers and contributed to books on acoustics, solid state physics, and material science. James West has received numerous awards including the Golden Torch Award in 1998 sponsored by the National Society of Black Engineers, the Lewis Howard Latimer Light Switch and Socket Award in 1989, and was chosen New Jersey Inventor of the Year for 1995 and inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 1999.
James West is currently the leader of a program aimed at minority high school students, which encourages them to experience science with the assistance of mentors at Bell Labs.
Miriam Benjamin was a Washington D.C. school teacher and the second black woman to receive a patent. Miriam Benjamin received a patent for an invention she called a Gong and Signal Chair for Hotels. Her invention allowed hotel customer to summon a waiter from the comfort of their chair. A button on the chair would buzz the waiters’ station and a light on the chair would let the wait staff know who wanted service. Miriam Benjamin’s invention was adapted and used in the United States House of Representatives. Below you can view the actual patent issued to Miriam Benjamin on July 17, 1888.
George Grant, an avid golfer, was also interested in the physics of golfing. He set about to improve the game of golf as a result he received U.S. patent No. 638,920 on December 12, 1899 for an improved golf tee.
George Grant was also recognized internationally for his invention of the oblate palate, a prosthetic device he designed for treatment of the cleft palate.
Dr. George Grant graduated from Harvard Dental School in 1870. He was one of two African American to first graduate from Harvard Dental school, where he later taught.
Janet Emerson Bashen
In January 2006, Janet Emerson Bashen became the first African American female to hold a patent for a software invention. The patented software, LinkLine, is a web-based application for EEO claims intake and tracking, claims management, document management and numerous reports. Bashen will soon release the federal sector counterpart, EEOFedSoft, MD715Link and the web-based AAPSoft for building Affirmative Action Plans.
Janet Emerson Bashen was issued U.S. patent #6,985,922 on January 10 2006, for a “Method, Apparatus and System for Processing Compliance Actions over a Wide Area Network.”
Posted on February 6, 2012, in History and tagged black history month, black inventors, george grant, inventions, james e west, janet emerson bashen, miriam benjamin, patricia bath. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.