BGLH Marketplace Blog

From Rotating Sprinklers to the Fire Escape; 50 Things You Didn't Know Black People Invented

develop a technology she’s pioneered that uses laser-activated nanoparticles to treat cancer.
Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green developed a technology that uses laser-activated nanoparticles to treat cancer.

When people speak of the contributions African Americans have made to society, they tend to center on dance, sports and music. But our contributions extend way beyond that. Here are 50 things African American inventors created, patented and/or significantly improved. Click each item for more information.

Adjustable Shoe Cushion Inserts, Rondal Demon, 1999
Air Exhaust Purifier, Rufus Stokes
Auto Cut-Off Switch, Granville T. Woods
Auto Fishing Device (precursor to the gear and pulley systems used on commercial fishing trawlers), G. Cook, 1899
Automatic Elevator Door, Alexander Miles, 1867
Bicycle Frame, Isaac R. Johnson, 1899
Baby Carriage, William H. Richardson, 1899
Blood Bank, Charles Richard Drew, 1940s
Building Heating and Cooling Systems, David Crosthwait
Carbon Filament for Light Bulbs, Lewis Latimer
Casket Lowering Device, Albert Richardson, 1894
Clothes Dryer, George Sampson, 1892
Control Units For Pacemakers, Otis Boykin
Corn Planter, Henry Blair, 1834
Cotton Planter, Henry Blair, 1836
Door Knob, Osbourn Dorsey, 1878
Door Stop, Osbourn Dorsey, 1878

Dust Pan, Lloyd P. Ray, 1897
Egg Beater, Willie Johnson, 1884
Electrogasdynamics System (to disperse fog and smoke), Meredith C. Gourdine
Electronic Feeding Tube, Bessie Blount Griffin, 1951
Eye Protector (precursor to ballistic eye wear), P. Johnson, 1880
Fire Escape Ladder, Joseph Winters, 1878
First American-Made Striking Clock, Benjamin Banneker, 1753
Folding Cabinet Bed, Sarah Goode, 1885
Gamma Electrical Cell (used to generate auxiliary power from the shielding of a nuclear reactor), Henry Sampson, 1971
Gas Heating Furnace (the precursor to central heating), Alice Parker, 1919
Gas Mask, Garrett Morgan, 1914
Golf Tee, George Franklin Grant, 1899
Modern Hair Brush, Lyda D. Newman, 1898
Ice Cream Scoop, Alfred L. Cralle, 1897
Ironing Board, Sarah Boone, 1892
Laser-Activated Nano Particles to Treat Cancer, Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, 2016
Laserphaco, a New Device and Technique for Cataract Eye Surgery, Dr. Patricia E. Bath, 1986
Rotating Lawn Sprinkler, Joseph Smith, 1898
Lubricating Cup to Distribute Oil to Train Engines, Elijah McCoy, 1898
Mail Box, Philip Downing, 1891
Portable Air Conditioning Unit, Frederick M. Jones, 1949
Portable Pencil Sharpener, John Lee Love, 1897
Propellants for Nuclear Reactors, Donald Cotton
Recoverable Rocket Boosters, Jerry Shelby, 1994
Modern Rolling Pin, John W. Reed, 1884
Rotary Blade Lawn Mower, John Alert Burr, 1889
Self-Wringing Mop, Thomas Stewart, 1893
Shampoo Headrest, C.O. Bailiff, 1898
Steam Engine for War Ships, Benjamin Bradley, 1856
Straightening Comb, Madam Walker, 1905
Street Sweeper, Charles B. Brooks, 1896
Sugar Processing Evaporator (that revolutionized the sugar production industry), Norbet Rillieux, 1843
Supersoaker Squirt Gun, Lonnie G. Johnson
Telephone Transmitter, Granville T. Woods, 1884
Thermostat Control, Frederick M. Jones, 1960
Traffic Light, Garrett Morgan, 1923
TV Parental Control, Joseph N. Jackson
Porgrammable Remote Control, Joseph N. Jackson, 1978
Ultraviolet Camera, George Carruthers, 1969
VCR Remote Timer, Joseph N. Jackson, 1980
X-Ray Spectrometer, George Alcorn, 1984

  • Whipped Butters 6 oz Sample Pack — Pick 2

    Select options
  • FREE Whipped Butters 0.9 OZ Sample Pack — Pick 2

    Select options
  • Lavender & Cocoa Blended Butter (Coconut Oil Free, Almond Oil Free)

    Select options
  • Whipped Butters 2.5 OZ Sample Pack – Pick 2

    Select options
Notify of
1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Justice S
Justice S
6 years ago

Funny most things white people invented in early America their slaves did it or did the blueprints.I want an article on that.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x