Plenty would not exist were it not for black pioneers; here’s a very small glimpse at what modern day inventions came from the African American community.
1. Automatic Gear Shift
Richard Spikes – Driving up a steep hill got a whole lot easier in 1932, thanks to this guy.
2. America’s First Clock
Benjamin Banneker – He was a farmer, mathematician, astronomer, land surveyor, and the subject of a Stevie Wonder song.
3. Automatic Elevator Doors
Alexander Miles – We’ve all gotten the elevator door hug and we all owe this man.
John Pickering – His was the first blimp to have an electric motor and directional controls. Goodyear better have this man’s picture in their lobby.
5. Blood Bank
Dr. Charles Drew – For his invention of a method of separating and storing plasma, allowing it to be dehydrated and banked for later use, Dr. Drew was the first black person awarded a doctorate at Columbia University.
6. Clothes Dryer
George T. Sampson – Giving laundry baskets a greater sense of purpose since 1892.
7. Dust Pan
Lloyd P. Ray – Mr. Ray patented the reason we have far fewer backaches.
8. Electric Lamp
Lewis Latimer – He also invented the carbon filament inside light bulbs.
9. Folding Chair
John Purdy – With patent partner James R. Sadgwar, Purdy made taking a chair with you purdy easy. Get it?
10. Gas Heating Furnace
Alice H. Parker – Forever changing the way we stay warm in the winter.
11. Gas Mask
Garret Morgan – It all started when this guy rescued trapped miners wearing a hood to protect his eyes from smoke and had tubes leading to the floor to draw clean air.
12. Golf Tee
Dr. George Grant – They say he was an avid golfer, but not a great one. Hopefully his patent improved his game.
13. Home Security System
Marie Van Brittan Brown – And television has been part of home security ever since.
14. Ice Cream Scooper
Alfred L. Cralle – You’ve been screaming, I’ve been screaming, we’ve all been screaming for this since 1897.
15. Ironing Board
Sarah Boone – The reason we no longer iron across a piece of wood balanced on two chairs.
16. Lawn Mower
John Albert Burr – The lawnmower’s best makeover ever brought better traction, rotary blades, and allowed cutting closer to buildings.
17. Lawn Sprinkler
Joseph A. Smith – We should honor this man for helping with Father’s Day ideas every year.
18. Mail Box
Phillip Downing – Before this invention, people had to make a long trip to the Post Office to mail a letter.
19. Modern Lock
Washington Martin – His patent was an improvement on the 4,000-year-old Chinese bolt.
20. Modern Toilet
Thomas Elkins – He influenced several major patents, but it’s this one we appreciate most (not to knock the multi-purpose table or refrigerators for dead bodies).
Thomas W. Stewart – He’s kept us off our hands and knees since 1893.
Otis Boykin – On top of this lifesaving invention, he was born in Dallas, Texas. Double. Greatness.
23. Peanut Butter
George Washington Carver – His invention smells the best of all. Including all inventions ever.
24. Portable Pencil Sharpener
John Lee Love – A carpenter clever with names for his inventions, calling this one the ‘Love Sharpener.’
25. Potato Chips
George Crum – You have to love that his last name is Crum.
26. Reversible Baby Stroller
William Richardson – He’s also the reason wheels move separately. We feel certain there are fewer crying babies in the world because of this man.
27. Super Soaker
Lonnie G. Johnson – Being a NASA engineer is impressive, but we love him for inventing the Super Soaker!
29. Thermostat & Temperature Control
Frederick Jones – His refrigeration equipment made it possible to transport blood and food during World War II.
30. Traffic Light
Garrett Morgan – Three cheers for the red, green and yellow. Mostly for the green!