Henry Brown patented a “receptacle for storing and preserving papers on November 2, 1886” This was a fire and accident safe container made of forged metal, which could be sealed with a lock and key. It was special in that it kept the papers separated. Perhaps an early forerunner to the filofax?
Charles Brooks of Newark, New Jersey invented improvements to street sweeper trucks that he patented on March 17, 1896. His truck had revolving brushes attached to the front fender and the brushes were interchangeable with scrapers that could be used in winter for snow removal. Charles Brook also designed an improved refuse receptacle for storing the collected garbage and litter and a wheel drive for the automatic turning of the brushes and for powering a lifting mechanism for the scrapers. (See patent following page)
Charles Brooks also patented an early paper punch, also called a ticket punch. It was a ticket punch that had a built-in receptacle on one of the jars to collect the round pieces of waste paper and prevent littering.
View the full patents issued to Charles Brooks for his street sweeper and ticket punch.
African American inventor Phil Brooks, received a U.S. patent for a “Disposable Syringe” #3,802,434 on April 9, 1974. Below you can view the patent issued to Phil Brooks for his “Disposable Syringe”.
“A black woman can invent something for the benefit of humankind” - Bessie Blount
Bessie Blount, was a physical therapist who worked with soldiers injured in W.W.II. Bessie Blount’s war service inspired her to patent a device, in 1951, that allowed amputees to feed themselves.
The electrical device allowed a tube to deliver one mouthful of food at a time to a patient in a wheelchair or in a bed whenever he or she bit down on the tube. She later invented a portable receptacle support that was a simpler and smaller version of the same, designed to be worn around a patient’s neck.
Bessie Blount was born in Hickory, Virginia in 1914. She moved from Virginia to New Jersey where she studied to be a physical therapist at the Panzar College of Physical Education and at Union Junior College and then furthered her training as a physical therapist in Chicago.
In 1951, Bessie Blount started teaching Physical Therapy at the Bronx Hospital in New York. She was unable to successfully market her valuable inventions and found no support from United States Veteran’s Administration, so she gave the patent rights to the French government in 1952. The French government put the device to good use helping to make life better for many war vets.
Bessie Blount’s patent was filed under her married name of Bessie Blount Griffin.
“Know thyself,” said the old philosopher, “improve thyself,” saith the new. Our great object in time is not to waste our passions and gifts on the things external that we must leave behind, but that we cultivate within us all that we can carry into the eternal progress beyond.
~ Edward BulwerLytton
St Elmo Brady
Getting a PHD is no easy task, but getting one in Chemistry is even more daunting. Now imagine you are an African American in 1916. Well that is when St Elmo Brady earned his PHD in Chemistry at the University of Illinois. He was the first African American to do so. He was also the first African American to be admitted to Phi Lambda Upsilon, Chemistry Honors society in 1914 and in 1915 was inducted into Sigma Xi. He was born 1884 in Louisville, Kentucky. He decided to delve into science and attended the University of Nashville in Tennessee. He earned a Bachelor of Science in 1908. Upon graduation he accepted a position at Tuskegee University known earlier as Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. He studied at the University of Illinois with an interest in Chemistry in 1912. He earned a Masters degree in 1914 and later a Doctorate in 1916. Brady found his niche in Organic acids. He took a position as a teacher in the chemistry department of Howard University. He also taught at Tugaloo College. At the University of Illinois; Brady started a training program for teaching faculty from all colleges. This program focused on infrared Spectroscopy which recognizes a variety of components in compounds. Brady published several articles and abstracts in Science from 1914 to 1915. He also published, as collaboration with collaborated with Professor George Beal,”The Hydrochloride Method for the Determination of Alkaloids.” in Journal of Industrial Engineering Chemistry .Brady retired from a teaching career in 1952. He was a gift to the world of Chemistry. How fitting is it that St Elmo Brady passed away on December 25th, Christmas day, 1966.
Some historians have reported that Edmond Berger invented an early spark plug on February 2, 1839. However, Edmond Berger did not patent his invention. Spark plugs are used in internal combustion engines and in 1839 these engines were in the early days of experimentation. Therefore, Edmund Berger’s spark plug if it did exist would have had to have been very experimental in nature as well or perhaps the date was a mistake.
According to Britannica a spark plug or sparking plug is, “a device that fits into the cylinder head of an internal-combustion engine and carries two electrodes separated by an air gap, across which current from a high-tension ignition system discharges, to form a spark for igniting the fuel.”
Janet Emerson Bashen
In January 2006, Ms. Bashen became the first African American female to hold a patent for a software invention. The patented software, LinkLine, is a web-based application for EEO claims intake and tracking, claims management, document management and numerous reports. Bashen will soon release the federal sector counterpart, EEOFedSoft, MD715Link and the web-based AAPSoft for building Affirmative Action Plans.
Janet Emerson Bashen was issued U.S. patent #6,985,922 on January 10 2006, for a “Method, Apparatus and System for Processing Compliance Actions over a Wide Area Network.”
Virgie Ammons was an inventor and women of color who invented a device for dampening fireplaces. Little is known about the life of Virgie Ammons. You can view the patent for the Virgie Ammons invention above.
John Henry Thompson
Computer Programming and Software Inventions
Even in high school, John Henry Thompson was interested in computer programming languages. He taught himself several programming languages such as FORTRAN, PLI, COBOL and JCL while working in a New York research facility. Thompson’s goal was to absorb as much knowledge as possible so he could invent his own computer language.
After graduating from High School, he attended MIT where he obtained a degree in Computer Science and a minor in Visual Arts. By combining these two seemingly disparate disciplines, Thompson wanted to bridge the gap between art and technology. Four years later as a chief scientist at Macromedia™, he was able to make progress towards this goal. He developed a number of products, many of them based on his most famous invention, Lingo programming: a scripting language that helps render visuals in computer programs. Thompson used Lingo in one of his better-known computer inventions, Macromedia™ Director. Macromedia™ Director is able to incorporate different graphic formats (such as BMP, AVI, JPEG, QuickTime, PNG, RealVideo and vector graphics) to create multi-media content and applications, thus combining computer programming language with visual art.
Lingo is now used with many programs that have interactive simulations with graphics, animation, sound, and video. Along with Macromedia™ Director, Thompson has helped develop MediaMaker, Actions, VideoWorks Accelerator, and Video Works II. Lingo has also been used to create flash and shockwave programs that now are prevalent in video games, web design, animation, and graphics.