Have you ever wondered who invented the potato chip? Or how the refrigerator came to be a staple in homes across America and abroad? These are two of many inventions contributed by African American inventors to the advancement of technology. In honor of Black History Month, the final blog post for the month of February will showcase notable African American inventors and their inventions.
George Crum (1824-1914)
First up on the list of inventors we will talk about is George Crum, the inventor of the potato chip! Crum was a chef and restaurateur who unintentionally created one of the world’s favorite snacks in the summer of 1853. As the story goes, a customer had ordered a batch of fried potatoes and complained of them being way too thick. As a remedy, the quick-thinking chef sliced the order ultra-thin, creating the potato chip. Unfortunately, Geroge Crum did not patent the product, but his influence on this snack is well known.
Frederick McKinley Jones(1839-1961)
Second up we have Frederick McKinley Jones, the inventor of refrigeration. Arguably one of the most well-known inventions, refrigerators revolutionized how we handle food today. In the 1930s Frederick began inventing cooling units meant for trucks, cars, and other vehicles. This was used to transport food, medicine, and other refrigerated items. This became essential for the delivery of supplies in WW2. Frederick went on to take out a multitude of refrigeration-related patents.
Third up is Jackson, the first African American woman to earn a doctorate at MIT (Massachusetts institute of technology). She is responsible for major advances in telecommunications research which led to the invention of many important products. Such as the touch-tone phone, portable fax, fiber optic cables, and caller ID. In 2014, President Barack Obama named her the co-chair of the President’s Intelligence Advis.
Garret Morgan (1877-1963)
Lastly on the list is Garret Morgan, a very intelligent and creative human being. It’s safe to say that Garrett Morgan’s most prominent original designs have saved thousands of lives since their invention. His invention has been used worldwide in everyday driving and it is used in traffic signals. It was the first to offer a third “caution” signal, which we now know as the yellow light. He was a very intelligent human being that also received a patent for his “Breathing Device,” which was one of the earliest versions of a gas mask. This helped tremendously during war times; it gave soldiers the ability to breathe during airborne attacks or smoke bombs.
It is important to reflect upon the inventors and trailblazers who brought us to where we are today in regard to modern technology. Without these historical African American figures, we would not have some of the devices that make our current lifestyles possible.
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