February may be a month of black history, but in reality we should always celebrate the inventors who changed the world with their ideas, hard work and dedication. Below are just a few of the influential people who made a huge impact in the technology field. The next time you turn on the lights, answer a call, access social media, or order something online, think about how one of these inventors paved the way for our modern technological conveniences.
Otis Boykin: Precision Wire Electric Resistor
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Thanks to Boykin’s work, we can now set an exact resistance value for the wiring in our electronics. This has allowed our televisions, personal computers, and radios to make leaps and bounds to the modern devices we have today. Boykin’s work also led to the implantable pacemaker – a medical device used by millions to treat heart disease.
Mark Dean: Assistance in creating the first gigahertz chip, a color PC monitor and more
Mark Dean – computer scientist, engineer and IBM Fellow – worked with IBM to develop technologies like the first gigahertz chip. Dean has since received numerous awards and received his PhD from Stanford. His work was monumental and affects our daily lives in many ways, paving the way for today’s computers and game consoles.
Jesse Russell: Cellular
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Think about Jesse Russell every time you pick up your smartphone. During his decades in the telecommunications industry, Russell was instrumental in bringing cellular communications up to date. Numerous patents in this field for innovations such as his wireless communication base station and his mobile data phone.
Fredrick McKinley Jones: Automatic Cooling System for Long Distance Trucks
Another inventor we have to thank for our modern conveniences is Fredrick McKinley Jones. He made it possible to ship items that need to stay cool, with numerous patents for cooling. He also contributed to other industries, particularly film, as well as the medical field. Only when you buy products in-store or order perishable goods online has Jones’ work helped make it happen.
Jerry Lawson: Fairchild Channel F video game console and cassette
Lawson helped develop the Fairchild Channel F console, the first cartridge gaming system, in 1976. With games like video blackjack, bowling, checkers, and slot machines, it was none other than the games we have today. But without Lawson’s work, we might not have today’s highly graphic titles or consoles. Some people even refer to Lawson as the father of modern gaming.
Alice H. Parker: Gas stove
Alice Parker patented a natural gas stove in 1919. Their invention helped modernize the HVAC industry and central heating systems, which enabled better energy savings and distracted us from our reliance on wood and coal. Needless to say, our homes are now much more comfortable thanks to their revolutionary concept.
Garrett Morgan: Three position traffic light
Getting stuck at a signal in traffic is the worst, but these signals play an important role in regulating traffic. Morgan generated a T-shaped automated signal with three positions including a warning position. He sold the invention for $ 40,000.
Roy Clay: computer science pioneer
In the 1960s, Roy Clay led the team at HP that came out with the 2116A. He also developed software for the computer. A hugely influential figure in modern technology, Clay has worked on developing electrical safety testers and has helped others get involved in the technology industry.
Marie Van Brittan Brown: Home security system
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Marie Van Brittan Brown, credited with creating the first home security system, filed a patent for her invention of the CCTV (Closed Circuit Television Security) system in 1966. CCTV systems are used to this day, and thanks to Brown’s contribution, homes and businesses are being used in every area of the world has affordable access to home security.
Shirley Jackson: Charge Density Wave Research
Shirley Jackson remains one of the most impressive people of all time. In addition to her doctorate in particle physics, Dr. Jackson worked with Bell Laboratories on research related to charge density waves. Charge density waves are important for the creation of high temperature superconductors which have all possible technological applications. President Bill Clinton even named Jackson chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Lisa Gelobter: Contributing to Shockwave, Hulu, and more
Not only was Obama Chief Digital Service Officer of the Department of Education promised, but he was also involved in many of the technologies we use today. She worked on Hulu and Shockwave and is even held responsible for creating the animation used in GIFs. And as if that weren’t impressive enough, Gelobter acted as chief digital officer for BET Networks.
James E. West: electret microphone
Foil electret microphones may not sound as exciting, but the technology is used in nearly 90% of all microphones produced annually. West patented the electret microphone in 1962 and now it can be found in everything from phones to hearing aids to baby monitors, not to mention a host of other devices.
Lewis Latimer: carbon filament for lightbulbs
Lewis Latimer has worked on some fairly important inventions, but he often receives little credit. He worked with Alexander Bell to design his patent for the telephone, for example, and he patented the carbon filament for the light bulb. Latimer’s contributions have fundamentally changed the way we live, work and communicate.
Gladys West: Contributions to GPS
GPS is almost ubiquitous these days and is used in everything from travel to weather to the military. However, the technology would not be possible without the contributions of Gladys West. As a mathematician and programmer, West programmed a computer to perform calculations for a geodetic earth model that enabled GPS.
Granville Woods: Induction Telegraph
Granville Woods invented some devices, including a hybrid telephone-telegraph that allowed people to talk over telegraph wires. In addition, Woods created the Troller, which enabled trolleys to receive electricity from overhead lines. His contributions played an important role in our communications, electronics, and travel industries.
Marc Hannah: 3D graphics software
Marc Hannah is a world-renowned inventor, chief architect, and co-founder of Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI). As the architect of the 3D effects software, he contributed directly and indirectly to various fields including the film industry and the military. If you’ve ever thought the special effects at Jurassic Park were impressive, then thanks to Hannah.
Frank S. Greene: High Speed Semiconductor Computer Storage Systems
Frank S. Greene, electrical engineer, inventor, teacher, and lawyer, was a Silicon Valley powerhouse. As a PhD student and one of the world’s leading providers of semiconductor technology, Greene has applied for a patent for an integrated circuit. His patent helped Fairchild become a leader in semiconductor technology in the 1960s.