Featured Inventors

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A Chicago housewife during the 1940s received two patents. In May 1943, Henrietta Bradberry patented a bed rack that provided a space to hang shirts, trousers and other clothing worn so that air could freshen them after they had been worn. Then in December 1945, Mrs. Bradberry designed a waterproof pneumatically operated way to fire torpedoes under water from either undersea installations or submarines. Before here death on May 17, 1979, Mrs. Bradberry in an interview told that ideas just came to her and as a housewife she had time to work out the concepts to perfection and to the satisfaction of the patent office.She made numerous attempts through the effort and support of her patent attorney to find manufacturers or buyers for her patent rights, but unfortunately, that never occurred. Disenchanted, Henrietta Bradberry abandoned all efforts to gain economic benefit from her extraordinary talent.
Mary Beatrice Kenner, age 89, during her early childhood was severely burned during the period of segregation and discrimination. Doctors refused to treat her and her parent were told she would not survive. On a "dying bed," her spirit requested orange juice, and she began to recover, but unfortunately with a facial deformity. As she grew up, she was ostracized because of her looks, yet her spirit remained strong until she was able to have plastic surgery. As a teenager with other classmates, was instrumental in establishing Black History Month, at a time when Carter G. Woodson had opted for a week.Beatrice, as she likes to be called, at the age of 18, received her first patent on May 15, 1956, known as the Sanitary Belt, and an additional four patents from 1959 to 1987. In 1999, Beatrice received another patent for one of her latest innovations that improved driving on our highways and ultimately saved lives. She has written a book, soon to be published, entitled "IT BURNED MY BODY-BUT NOT MY SOUL."
Betty W. Harris was born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana. Interested in chemistry, she attended Souther University graduating with a B.S. Degree in Chemistry and earning a M.S. Degree in Chemistry form Atlanta University. She became a research chemist after earning her Ph.D from the University of New Mexico. As a research chemist, Dr. Betty Harris worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico in the area of hazardous waste treatment and environmental restoration of facilities contaminated with energetic materials. She is an expert in the chemistry of explosives. Dr. Harris' major projects at Los Alamos Laboratory have included the development of a spot test for identifying explosives in a field environment in which she received a patent in 1986; development of safing fluids for explosives spilled; synthesis and characterization of new insensitive high explosives and determining the sensitivity of weathered high explosives.
At the age of eight years old, Valerie Thomas borrowed her first book from the public library was "The Boy's First Book on Electronics," but her father believed that technology and mathematics were not for girls. Yet, Valerie Thomas became an accomplished data analyst and mathematician and excelled in the field computer technology. She is also the inventor of the illusion transmitter, which is a three-dimensional illusional television system for transmitting an illusion of an object. The invention makes use of the concept of real images by including a concave mirror on the transmitting end for creating the real images for transmision and a concave mirror on the receiving end for recreating the real image after receiving it, which will be as common as television and computers. Imagine your favorite entertainment moving around in your own living room, while he or she is performing miles away, or image shopping for the latest clothing fashions by having them appear before your eyes as you sit at home. Valerie Thomas has also designed computer programs to assist in research related to a supernova explosion, Halley's comet, ozone hole studies and voyager satellite encounters.
Dr. Patricia Bath, M.D., is the inventor of the cataract Laserphacoprobe, which is the medical instrument to remove cataracts from the eye. Dr. Bath was the first Black Female Surgeon appointed to UCLA in 1975, and is credited with the founding of the Student National Medical Association along with other Howard University students, and was its first president. Together with associates and colleagues, founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness and with limited funding provided free vision screening services to undeserved communities.

Dr. Bath holds several firsts:
  • First African American woman surgeon at Drew Medical School
  • First Woman Program Director (Chief) of a Postgraduate training program at Drew
  • First Woman Chair of Opthalmolgy in the history of the United States from 1983-1986, Drew-UCLA Residency Program
  • First Woman Faculty Opthalmologist of UCLA Department of Opthalmology, Jules Stein Eye Institute with her appointment in 1975
  • First Woman elected to Honorary Medical Staff of UCLA Medical Center upon her retirment in 1993
  • Elected to Hunter College Hall of Fame in 1988
  • Elected as Howard University Pioneer in Academic Medicine in 1993.
As the first African American female physician/inventor, Dr. Bath in the early part of her career devoted herself to the prevention of blindness in the United States and internationally. Her intense interest, experience and research on cataracts culminated in 1985-1986 with her invention of a new device and method to remove cataracts. With this invention, Dr. Patricia Bath was able to recover the sight of several individuals who had been blind over 30 years. As a laser scientist and inventor, Dr. Bath has five patents on a laser cataract surgery device covering the United States, Canada, Japan, and Europe.
Dr. Shirley A. Jackson, a leading scientist in America, is one of the greatest contributors to the "true voice" abilities of the telephone system. During her childhood, she had an interest in science and math and she conducted many different experiments. On the honors program throughout school, she enrolled into MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and became the first African American woman to receive a doctorate degree in the field of particle physics, an area of science that deals with matter and motion. Dr. Jackson also founded the first Black Student Union at MIT.

After college, Dr. Jackson became a leading scientist conducting successful experiments in theoretical physics. While working at Bell Laboratories, the research division of AT&T, Dr. Jackson advances in the field of telecommunications. This includes the development of the touch tone telephone, portable fax, solar cell and the fiber optic cables used to provide clear sound in overseas telephone calls. Receiving numerous awards, including the 1973 "Scientist of the Year" Award, Dr. Shirley Jackson's technical skills made possible Call Waiting and Caller ID.
Granville T. Woods was born on April 23, 1856 in Columbus, Ohio. Entering college, Woods studied mechanical engineering and ultimately developed over 80 inventions during his 20 year career. One of his most noted inventions was the synchronous multiplex railway telegraph, a device which enable moving trains to communicate with one another, helping to avoid possible accidents. Another invention was his electrical generator, which was patented on November 4, 1896. The device was used to vary, as desired, the strength of the electric current delivered to a required device thus preventing the overheating and burnouts of resistors. The significance of this invention was that it reduced the number of fires due to resistors over heating and led to a 40% savings in electricity.

One of the inventions by Granville T. Woods enjoyed by many at amusement parks is the Two Track Ride, known as the Roller Coaster apparatus. Other inventions included a steam boiler furnace, an incubator, and an automatic air brake system. During the height of his career, the American Catholic Tribune called Woods "The Black Edison - The Greatest Electrician in the World."
A Harvard graduate in 1870, Dr. George F. Grant later became an instructor at the University. He was internationally recognized as an expert in the treatment of the cleft palate, a defect caused when the two sides on the roof of the mouth join completely during pregnancy, which can be corrected by surgery.

Enjoying the game of golf, Dr. George F. Grant received patent No. 638,920, dated December 12, 1899 for the Golf Tee.
Hermon Grimes received a patent as the inventor of the folding wing aircraft that was used in combat for takeoff aircraft carriers. Folding aircrafts enable the US Navy to stock more planes on its aircraft carriers and gave the United States an advantage over Japanese carriers. Folding wing aircrafts such as the Hell Cat, Tiger Cat and Wild Cat accounted for over 75 percent of the downed enemy aircrafts in the Pacific.

The invention of the folding wing aircraft shortened World War II and saved many American lives. It was the forerunner of the modern technology that is used in the designing of the fighter aircraft. Former President George Bush flew the Avenger Bomber, also a folding aircraft, during World War II.
James E. West is the co-inventor of the Foil Electret Microphone. The ruggedness, superior quality, and low cost of the foil electret microphone led to its adoption in appliances and applications from telephone to recorders to multimedia computer systems. Microphones using his design concept account for 90% of all microphones produced in the past decade (over ten billion units). The same fundamental electret configuration has found application in fields as diverse as radiation detectors, air filtration and blood-pressure measurement.

Building minority participation in science and engineering at Bell Laboratories and throughout the United States, James West's leadership has been critical in the creation and fostering of the AT&T Cooperative Research Fellowship Program which has funded over 200 minority Ph.D. candidates in the sciences and engineering.
Mark E. Dean was born on March 2, 1957 in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Dean knew from a child that technology would play a major role in his life and wanted to work for IBM. In elementary school, he excelled in math in the grades 1 to 4, and was taking the same math courses as the older children. Building his first computer, radio and amplifier during high school, Dr. Dean went on to obtain his bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee, his Masters at Florida Atlantic University, and his Ph.D. from Stanford University. Dr. Dean has been working for IBM since 1980 and was named an IBM Fellow. He holds more than 20 US patents including three of IBM's original nine PC patents.

Dr. Dean's PC patents include those geared toward allowing people to add new devices to their personal computers - simplifying the way printers, scanners or graphics are added, or devising a technology friendly to vendors who build plug-ins. Many of his patents are in the area of new features such as a set of graphics so that elements - pictures on the screen - are cleaner.

Dr. Mark E. Dean is one of the scientists responsible for creating the computer technology currently being used in more than 40 million personal computers produced each year. In 1998, a team led by Dr. Dean produced the 1 GHz chip (which would be something like a Pentium 1,000 but faster), which contains 1 million transistors and will eventually be applied to microprocessors. The 1 GHz chip's potential is limitless.


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