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#BHM2023: 4 Black inventors that created life-changing contributions to society

The #BHM2023: Inventor Series will look at Black inventors that transformed communities worldwide with technology and products.

#BHM2023: 4 Black inventors that created life-changing contributions to society
DID YOU KNOW? A Black man invented an early prototype of an air conditioning unit. UNSPLASH PHOTO

The #BHM2023: Inventor Series will look at Black inventors that transformed communities worldwide with technology and products.

From the microphone to the refrigerator, Black inventors have created advancements that have withstood the test of time. Black Dollar Magazine is honouring the Black inventors who used their inquisitive minds to bring about change, even if some of them never received the credit or financial compensation they deserved.

This is Part 2 of the #BHM2023: Inventor Series. Check out Part 1 here.

Dr. Mark E. Dean

Computer scientist Mark E. Dean. JORDAN MAXWELL SCREENSHOT

He is a legend of computers and engineering — Dr. Mark E. Dean is someone to remember.

The computer scientist helped develop several landmark technologies for IBM, including the colour PC monitor and the first gigahertz chip. He holds three of the company's original nine patents. He also invented the Industry Standard Architecture system bus with engineer Dennis Moeller, allowing for computer plug-ins such as disk drives and printers, according to

Born in Jefferson City, Tennessee, he showed a love for building things at an early age. In 1979, he graduated at the top of his class at the University of Tennessee, where he studied engineering. Dean later landed a job at IBM and designed the inventions above.

Following his tenure with IBM, he went back to school and earned his master's degree in electrical engineering from Florida Atlantic University in 1982. Then, 10 years later, he completed his doctorate in the same field at Stanford University.

In 1996, Dean was named an IBM fellow, the first African American to receive the honour. A year later, he was honoured with the Black Engineer of the Year President's Award and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, according to

Lewis Howard Latimer

Lewis H. Latimer helped create the telephone design. JORDAN MAXWELL SCREENSHOT

He worked closely with Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell and is said to be the founder of commercial lighting. Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, he was the son of slaves who learned the art of mechanical drawing while working at a patent firm. He taught himself after watching fellow employees who worked there.

As an innovator, Latimer designed several inventions, including an improved railroad car bathroom and an early air conditioning unit, according to

One of these creations, the telephone, was directly related to Latimer. He collaborated with Bell to create the telephone design patent. Working for Hiram Maxim and Edison, he was also involved in the highly competitive industry of incandescent lighting.

In 1890, Latimer published a book called “Incandescent Electric Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System.” He continued to work as a patent consultant until 1922, according to

George Crum

George Crum is said to be the founder of the potato chip. JORDAN MAXWELL SCREENSHOT

This man deserves an award! Born in 1824, chef and restauranteur George Crum is the inventor of the potato chip, according to according to

Said to come from his brain trust in 1853, they were produced in response to a client who returned their fried potatoes because they were too thick. Even though Crum never sought to patent the invention, the crisps were an immediate success.

He grew up in upstate New York and, in the 1850s, was hired at Moon's Lake House, a high-end restaurant that catered to wealthy Manhattan families, according to

He died in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1914.

Granville T. Woods

"The Black Edison" Granville T. Woods. JORDAN MAXWELL SCREENSHOT

Known as the “Black Edison”, Granville T. Woods had more than 60 patents at the time of his death in 1910, according to, including a telephone transmitter, a trolley wheel and the multiplex telegraph, for which he defeated Edison for recognition in a lawsuit.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1856, he was born to free parents and took an interest in electricity and engineering as a young teen. He worked at several power stations before coming up with the idea for the inductor telegraph, which he designed in 1887, according to

Woods, a Cincinnati resident, eventually founded his own business to create, produce, and market electrical equipment. In 1889, he submitted his first patent application for a better steam boiler furnace. Alexander Graham Bell purchased the patent for Woods' technology, which merged the telephone and telegraph. It freed Woods up to focus on his own research, according to

Woods changed the name of his Cincinnati-based business to Woods Electric Co after winning the Edison lawsuit. He relocated his research activities to New York City in 1890, when he was joined by his brother Lyates Woods, who was also an inventor.

The power pick-up mechanism, created by Woods in 1901, is the foundation of the so-called "third rail" currently employed by electric-powered transportation systems. It was his next most significant invention. He was granted patents for an enhanced air-brake system between 1902 and 1905, according to

Woods died on Jan. 30, 1910, in New York City.

Part 3 of the #BHM2023: The Inventor Series on Feb. 16.