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Black History Month - African American Inventors

By Ben Ajayi

As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, let us take the time to recognize a few African American inventors that changed the world with their innovations.

Garrett Morgan - Inventor of the Three-Light Traffic Signal

On November 20, 1923, the U.S. Patent Office granted Patent No. 1,475,074 to 46-year-old inventor and newspaperman, Garrett Morgan, for his three-position traffic signal. Though Morgan’s was not the first traffic signal (that one had been installed in London in 1868), it was an important innovation nonetheless: By having a third position besides just “Stop” and “Go,” it regulated crossing vehicles more safely than earlier signals had. For more information

Granville T Woods - Inventor of the Induction Telegraph System

On November 29, 1887, Woods received a patent for his Induction Telegraph System, also called the Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph. Communication between moving trains and between a moving train and a railroad station had previously been poor. In a telegraph system, a continuous wire must exist between a sending key and a receiving sounder. Ordinary telegraph wires were usually run along railroad tracks, but for a telegraph system to work aboard the train, part of the train had to have been in constant contact with these wires. Because of the jostling movement of trains, most messages sent or received were incomplete. Numerous times, warnings of washed-out bridges, rock slides, and other obstructions failed to reach a train in time. Still other times, trains learned too late—or not at all—of the location of other trains on the same track. For more information

Matthew A. Cherry - Inventor of the Streetcar Fender

January 1, 1895, Cherry received another patent for the streetcar fender. Before this device was created, streetcars would get damaged when they collided with other objects. Cherry noticed this issue and invented the fender, which was a piece of metal that attaches to the front of the streetcar and acted as a shock absorber. The invention protected the front of the car from needing extensive repairs and absorb some of the impacts of collisions. Today we refer to the fender as a bumper which is on just about every automobile manufactured in the world. For more information

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