Inventors like Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla are well-known for creating products that are a solid part of our lives. There are many more people who are not well-known but contributed greatly to society with their inventions. Since February is Black History Month lets take a minute to focus on a few African-American inventors. 

All About Safety

Garrett MorganCredit: Google

When Garrett Morgan invented the respiratory hood (gas mask), he made it possible for firefighters and soldiers to breath while standing in toxic smoke. Mr. Morgan became inspired to make his creation after witnessing the difficultly firefighters had with smoke while battling fires. In 1916, his invention became nationally known after he used it to rescue several miners trapped in a tunnel under Lake Erie. Soon after this heroic display, the United States asked Morgan to manufacture hoods for the army.

A few years later, Morgan saw a terrible car accident at an intersection. This prompted him to create a new traffic signal. He was not the first to invent this product, but improved it with lights and warning bells. The device could be operated by connecting to a main power supply, battery power, or by a traffic agent. He received the patent for his traffic signal in 1922.

Space Saver

Sarah E. GoodeCredit: Google

Sarah E. Goode was an entrepreneur and the first black woman to receive a patent in the United States. While working in her furniture store customers would constantly complain to her about the lack of space that prevented them from adding new items to their homes. In response to these complains Goode created the folding cabinet bed and received the patent for her invention in 1885. This device contained a bed that folded up into a cabinet when not in use, and the cabinet was fully functional when the bed was folded.

Folding Cabinet BedCredit: Google

For The Long Haul

Frederick JonesCredit: Google

Fredrick Jones won the National Medal of Technology and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He made it possible for ice cream and other frozen goods to be transported from state to state. The inspiration for his long haul refrigeration system came after having a conversation with a trucker who lost his goods due to overheating. Jones would also go on to develop refrigerators for military kitchens and cooling systems for military hospitals.

He Made It Easier

Alfred L. CralleCredit: Google

While working as a porter in a Pittsburg Hotel, Alfred L. Cralle noticed that serving ice cream was a difficult task. The frozen treat would stick to spoons and ladles, and also required two hands to serve. To solve this problem, Cralle invented the ice cream scoop and received the patent for his invention in 1897. The scoop was easy to use with one hand, and also prevented ice cream, and other foods, from sticking.

Connecting Safely

Andrew Jackson BeardCredit: Google

Another inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame was Andrew Jackson Beard. In his time the railroad industry was quickly expanding throughout America. To join rail cars, yard workers would have to drop a metal spike into connectors when the cars were pushed together. This method caused many railroad yard workers to lose arms or legs. Beard himself lost a leg while trying to couple cars. To solve this problem, Beard created the JENNY Coupler system. His new method would allow cars to couple automatically when are they bumped together. Beard received the patent for his invention in 1897 and changed the railroad industry.

The JENNY couplerCredit: Google

Watering The Grass Made Easy

Joseph A. SmithCredit: Google

Thanks to Joseph A. Smith lawns can be kept looking their greenest with sprinkler systems. Smith did not invent the first sprinkler, but improved it with a rotating head. His system also ejected two separate streams of water at the same time. He was rewarded the patent to his invention in 1897. However, he continued to improve his invention and received another patent in 1898 for an updated model.

Summer Fun

Lonnie JohnsonCredit: Google

Lonnie Johnson changed the water gun industry when he invented the Super Soaker. Before his invention, water guns lacked power and distance. The Soaker however is able to shoot up to fifty feet and has more power than any regular water pistol. In 1991 and 1992 his invention was the top-selling toy in the United States, and today it continues to generate millions of dollars in sales.

Caring For Vision

Dr. Patricia BathCredit: Google

Doctor Patricia Bath became the first African-American woman doctor to receive a medical patent for her invention in 1988. With her practice in the field of ophthalmology and her dedication to preventing blindness, she was able to create the Cataract Laserphaco Probe. This invention was designed to remove cataracts from the eyes quickly and painlessly with the use of lasers. Her probe replaced the old method of using a drilling device to perform the procedure.

These great African-American inventors helped change our lives. For Black History Month lets take a moment to say thank you.