Yes,my ancestors did dat & I can do it too!!!

Featured Inventors Bio

William Purvis

Nanette Lucien

William Purvis
William Purvis realized how much of an inconvenience it was to have to carry around a bottle of ink whenever you needed to sign a contract or fill out legal papers. He therefore decided to do something about it.

 

On January 7, 1890, Purvis received a patent for the fountain pen. The pen eliminated the need for an ink bottle by storing ink within a reservoir within the pen which is then fed to the pen’s tip. Of his accomplishment, Purvis said, “the object of my invention is to provide a simple, durable, and inexpensive construction of a fountain pen adapted to general use and which may be carried in the pocket.” The creation of the fountain pen has made office work cleaner and less expensive for businesses all over the world.

In addition to his fountain pen, Purvis, a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also successfully patented a number of other inventions. Between 1884 and 1897 he patented bag machines, a bag fastener, a hand stamp, an electric railway device, an electric railway switch and a magnetic car balancing device. He also is believed to have invented , yet not patented several other devices such as the edge cutter found on aluminum foil, cling wrap and wax paper boxes.

 

http://blackinventor.com/william-purvis/


Lonnie Johnson

Nanette Lucien

Lonnie Johnson
Lonnie G. Johnson is a former Air Force and NASA engineer who invented the massively popular Super Soaker water gun.

Synopsis

African-American engineer and inventor Lonnie G. Johnson was born in Alabama in 1949. He earned his master's degree in nuclear engineering from Tuskegee University, and went on to work for the U.S. Air Force and the NASA space program. After tinkering with the invention of a high-powered water gun, Johnson's Super Soaker became a top-selling item by the early 1990s. He has since been developing the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter (JTEC), an engine that converts heat directly into electricity.

Early Life and Education

Lonnie George Johnson was born on October 6, 1949, in Mobile, Alabama. His father was a World War II veteran who worked as a civilian driver at nearby Air Force bases, while his mother worked in a laundry and as a nurse's aid. During the summers, both of Johnson's parents also picked cotton on his grandfather's farm. 

Out of both interest and economic necessity, Johnson's father was a skilled handyman who taught his children to build their own toys. When Johnson was still a small boy, he and his dad built a pressurized chinaberry shooter out of bamboo shoots. At the age of 13, Johnson attached a lawnmower engine to a go-kart he built from junkyard scraps and raced it along the highway until the police pulled him over.

Johnson dreamed of becoming a famous inventor and, during his teenage years, began to grow more curious about the way things worked and more ambitious in his experimentation—sometimes to the detriment of his family. "Lonnie tore up his sister's baby doll to see what made the eyes close," his mother later recalled. Another time, he nearly burned the house down when he attempted to cook up rocket fuel in one of his mother's saucepans and the concoction exploded.

Growing up in Mobile in the days of legal segregation, Johnson attended Williamson High School, an all-black facility, where, despite his precocious intelligence and creativity, he was told not to aspire beyond a career as a technician. Nevertheless, inspired by the story of famed African-American inventor George Washington Carver, Johnson persevered in his dream of becoming an inventor.

Nicknamed "The Professor" by his high school buddies, Johnson represented his school at a 1968 science fair sponsored by the Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS). The fair took place at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, where, just five years earlier, Governor George Wallace had tried to prevent two black students from enrolling at the school by standing in the doorway of the auditorium. 

The only black student in the competition, Johnson debuted a compressed-air-powered robot, called "the Linex," that he had painstakingly built from junkyard scraps over the course of a year. Much to the chagrin of the university officials, Johnson won first prize. "The only thing anybody from the university said to us during the entire competition," Johnson later recalled, "was 'Goodbye' and 'Y'all drive safe, now.'"

After graduating with Williamson's last segregated class, in 1969, Johnson attended Tuskegee University on a scholarship. He earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1973, and two years later he received a master's degree in nuclear engineering from the school.

Inventing the Super Soaker

Lonnie G. Johnson went on to join the U.S. Air Force, becoming an important member of the government scientific establishment. He was assigned to the Strategic Air Command, where he helped develop the stealth bomber program. Johnson moved on to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1979, working as a systems engineer for the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn, before returning to the Air Force in 1982.

Despite his busy days, Johnson continued to pursue his own inventions in his spare time. One of his longtime pet projects was an environmentally friendly heat pump that used water instead of Freon. Johnson finally completed a prototype one night in 1982 and decided to test it in his bathroom. He aimed the nozzle into his bathtub, pulled the lever and blasted a powerful stream of water straight into the tub. Johnson's instantaneous and instinctive reaction, since shared by millions of kids around the world, was pure delight.

In 1989, after another seven years of tinkering and tireless sales-pitching, during which he left the Air Force to go into business for himself, Johnson finally sold his device to the Larami Corporation. The "Power Drencher" initially failed to make much of a commercial impact, but after additional marketing efforts and a name change, the "Super Soaker" became a massively successful item. It topped $200 million in sales in 1991, and went on to annually rank among the world's Top 20 best-selling toys.

The Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter

Propelled by the success of the Super Soaker, Lonnie G. Johnson founded Johnson Research & Development, and went on to acquire dozens of patents. Some of his inventions, including a ceramic battery and hair rollers that set without heat, achieved commercial success. Others, including a diaper that plays a nursery rhyme when soiled, failed to catch on.

Another invention sought to address matters of far greater importance: With the creation of the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter (JTEC), the engineer aimed to develop an advanced heat engine that could convert solar energy into electricity with twice the efficiency of existing methods. He believed a successful version of the JTEC had the potential to make solar power competitive with coal, fulfilling the dream of efficient, renewable solar energy.

His pitches initially spurred, Johnson eventually obtained much-needed funding from the Air Force in order to continue working on his project. In 2008, Johnson received the Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics for the invention of the JTEC. More recently, he has been working with the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in California for further development.

Since leaving the Air Force, Lonnie G. Johnson has been one of a rare breed of scientists: the independent inventor working outside the scientific establishment. Had he retired upon patenting the Super Soaker, Johnson would still go down as one of the most successful inventors and entrepreneurs of his generation. However, if he manages to perfect the JTEC, Johnson will carve out a much greater place in history as one of the seminal figures of the ongoing green technology revolution. 

Paul Werbos of the National Science Foundation summed up the immense importance of Johnson's work: "This is a whole new family of technology. ... It's like discovering a new continent. You don't know what's there, but you sure want to explore it to find out. ... It has a darn good chance of being the best thing on Earth."

Personal

Along with his groundbreaking scientific work and inventions, Johnson is board chairman of the Georgia Alliance for Children and a member of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, an organization that mentors high school and college students. In 2011, he was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. 

In 2013, Johnson received a $73 million settlement from Hasbro Inc., which had acquired Larami Corp a decade earlier. The inventor had been seeking additional royalty payments from 2007 through 2012.

Johnson and his wife, Linda Moore, have four children. They live in the Ansley Park neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia.

 

Citation Information

Article Title

Lonnie G. Johnson

Author

Biography.com Editors

Website Name

The Biography.com website

URL

https://www.biography.com/people/lonnie-g-johnson-17112946


George Crum

Nanette Lucien

George Crum
The Story
As a world food, potatoes are second in human consumption only to rice. And as thin, salted, crisp chips, they are America's favorite snack food. Potato chips originated in New England as one man's variation on the French-fried potato, and their production was the result not of a sudden stroke of culinary invention but of a fit of pique.

In the summer of 1853, Native American George Crum was employed as a chef at an elegant resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. On Moon Lake Lodge's restaurant menu were French-fried potatoes, prepared by Crum in the standard, thick-cut French style that was popularized in 1700s France and enjoyed by Thomas Jefferson as ambassador to that country. Ever since Jefferson brought the recipe to America and served French fries to guests at Monticello, the dish was popular and serious dinner fare.

At Moon Lake Lodge, one dinner guest found chef Crum's French fries too thick for his liking and rejected the order. Crum cut and fried a thinner batch, but these, too, met with disapproval. Exasperated, Crum decided to rile the guest by producing French fries too thin and crisp to skewer with a fork. The plan backfired. The guest was ecstatic over the browned, paper-thin potatoes, and other diners requested Crum's potato chips, which began to appear on the menu as Saratoga Chips, a house specialty.

In 1860 George opened his own restaurant in a building on Malta Avenue near Saratoga Lake, and within a few years was catering to wealthy clients including William Vanderbilt, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, and Henry Hilton. His restaurant closed around 1890 and he died in 1914 at the age of 92.

The idea of making them as a food item for sale in grocery stores came to many people at around the same time, but perhaps the first was William Tappendon of Cleveland, OH, in 1895.   He began making chips in his kitchen and delivering to neighborhood stores but later converted a barn in the rear of his house into "one of the first potato chip factories" in the country.

At that time, potatoes were tediously peeled and sliced by hand. It was the invention of the mechanical potato peeler in the 1920s that paved the way for potato chips to soar from a small specialty item to a top-selling snack food. For several decades after their creation, potato chips were largely a Northern dinner dish.

In 1921, Bill and Sallie Utz started the Hanover Home Brand Potato Chips in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Salie Utz used her knowledge of good Pennsylvania Dutch cooking to make the chips in a small summer house behind their home. The hand-operated equipment Salie used made about fifty pounds of potato chips per hour. While Salie stayed home making chips, Bill delivered them to "mom and pop" grocery stores and farmer's markets in the Hanover, PA and Baltimore, MD area.

Out in Monterey Park, California  the Scudders company started making potato chips in 1926. Laura Scudder is credited with developing the wax paper bag for potato chips which made a wider distribution possible because of its preserving properties.  Prior to this bag potato chips were dispensed in bulk from barrels or glass display cases. 

In 1932, Herman Lay founded Lay's in Nashville, Tenn., which distributed potato chips from a factory in Atlanta, Ga. Herman Lay, a traveling salesman in the South, helped popularize the food from Atlanta to Tennessee. Lay peddled potato chips to Southern grocers out of the trunk of his car, building a business and a name that would become synonymous with the thin, salty snack. Lay's potato chips became the first successfully marketed national brand.

The industry that George Crum launched in 1853 continues to grow and prosper. Potato chips have become America's favorite snack. U.S. retail sales of potato chip are over $6 billion a year.  In 2003 the U.S. potato chip industry employed more than 65,000 people.

*George Speck was born to Abraham and Catherine Speck. George also used the name Crum, as his father did while working as a jockey.

 

http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventors/crum.htm


Benjamin Banneker

Nanette Lucien

Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker 

         Scientist, Astronomer(1731–1806)

Synopsis

Benjamin Banneker was born on November 9, 1731, in Ellicott's Mills, Maryland. A free black man who owned a farm near Baltimore, Banneker was largely self-educated in astronomy and mathematics. He was later called upon to assist in the surveying of territory for the construction of the nation's capital. He also became an active writer of almanacs and exchanged letters with Thomas Jefferson, politely challenging him to do what he could to ensure racial equality. Banneker died on October 9, 1806.1197878-Kanye-runs-into-his-Through-The-Wires-directors

Background and Early Years

Born on November 9, 1731, in Ellicott's Mills, Maryland, Benjamin Banneker was the son of an ex-slave named Robert and his wife, Mary Banneky. Mary was the daughter of an Englishwoman named Molly Welsh, a former indentured servant, and her husband, Bannka, an ex-slave whom she freed and who asserted that he came from tribal royalty in West Africa.

Because both of his parents were free, Benjamin escaped the wrath of slavery as well. He was taught to read by his maternal grandmother and for a very short time attended a small Quaker school. Banneker was primarily self-educated, a fact that did little to diminish his brilliance. His early accomplishments included constructing an irrigation system for the family farm and a wooden clock that was reputed to keep accurate time and ran for more than 50 years until his death. In addition, Banneker taught himself astronomy and accurately forecasted lunar and solar eclipses. After his father's passing, he ran his own farm for years, cultivating a business selling tobacco via crops. 

Interests in Astronomy and Surveying

Banneker's talents and intelligence eventually came to the attention of the Ellicott family, entrepreneurs who had made a name and fortune by building a series of gristmills in the Baltimore area in the 1770s. George Ellicott had a large personal library and loaned Banneker numerous books on astronomy and other fields.

In 1791, Andrew Ellicott, George’s cousin, hired Banneker to assist in surveying territory for the nation’s capital city. He worked in the observatory tent using a zenith sector to record the movement of the stars. However, due to a sudden illness, Banneker was only able to work for Ellicott for about three months. 

Popular Almanacs

Banneker's true acclaim, however, came from his almanacs, which he published for six consecutive years during the later years of his life, between 1792 and 1797. These handbooks included his own astronomical calculations as well as opinion pieces, literature and medical and tidal information, with the latter particularly useful to fishermen. Outside of his almanacs, Banneker also published information on bees and calculated the cycle of the 17-year locust

Letter to Jefferson

Benjamin Banneker's accomplishments extended into other realms as well, including civil rights. In 1791, Thomas Jefferson was secretary of state and Banneker considered the respected Virginian, though a slaveholder, to also be open to viewing African Americans as more than slaves. Thus, he wrote Jefferson a letter hoping that he would “readily embrace every opportunity to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions which so generally prevail with respect to us." To further support his point, Banneker included a handwritten manuscript of an almanac for 1792, containing his astronomical calculations.

In his letter, Banneker acknowledged he was “of the African race” and a free man. He recognized that he was taking “a liberty” writing to Jefferson, which would be unacceptable considering “the almost general prejudice and prepossession which is so prevalent in the world against those of my complexion.” Banneker then respectfully chided Jefferson and other patriots for their hypocrisy, enslaving people like him while fighting the British for their own independence.

Jefferson quickly acknowledged Banneker's letter, writing a response. He told Banneker that he took “the liberty of sending your almanac to Monsieur de Condorcet [secretary of the French Academy of Sciences]...because I considered it as a document to which your whole colour had a right for their justification against the doubts which have been entertained of them.” Banneker published Jefferson’s letter alongside his original piece of correspondence in his 1793 almanac. Banneker's outspokenness with regard to the issue of slavery earned him the widespread support of the abolitionist societies in Maryland and Pennsylvania, both of which helped him publish his almanac.

I thank you sincerely for your letter of the 19th. instant and for the Almanac it contained. no body wishes more than I do to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren, talents equal to those of the other colours of men, & that the appearance of a want of them is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence both in Africa & America. I can add with truth that no body wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced for raising the condition both of their body & mind to what it ought to be, as fast as the imbecillity of their present existence, and other circumstance which cannot be neglected, will admit. I have taken the liberty of sending your almanac to Monsieur de Condorcet, Secretary of the Academy of sciences at Paris, and member of the Philanthropic society because I considered it as a document to which your whole colour had a right for their justification against the doubts which have been entertained of them. I am with great esteem, Sir, Your most obedt. humble servt. Th. Jefferson

Later Life and Death

Never married, Benjamin Banneker continued to conduct his scientific studies throughout his life. By 1797, sales of his almanac had declined and he discontinued publication. In the following years, he sold off much of his farm to the Ellicotts and others to make ends meet, continuing to live in his log cabin. 

On Tuesday, October 11, at the family burial ground a few yards from this house, Benjamin Banneker was laid to rest. During the services, mourners were startled to see his house had caught on fire, quickly burning down. Nearly everything was destroyed, including his personal effects, furniture and wooden clock. The cause of the fire was never determined.

Benjamin Banneker’s life was remembered in an obituary in the Federal Gazette of Philadelphia and has continued to be written about over the ensuing two centuries. With limited materials having been preserved related to Banneker's life and career, there's been a fair amount of legend and misinformation presented. In 1972, scholar Sylvio A. Bedini published an acclaimed biography on the 17th-century icon—The Life of Benjamin Banneker: The First African-American Man of Science. A revised edition appeared in 1999.  

 


Garrett Morgan

Nanette Lucien

Garrett Morgan
With only an elementary school education, Garrett Morgan, born in Kentucky on March 4, 1877, began his career as a sewing-machine mechanic. He went on to patent several inventions, including an improved sewing machine and traffic signal, a hair-straightening product, and a respiratory device that would later provide the blueprint for WWI gas masks. The inventor died on July 27, 1963, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Early Life

Born in Paris, Kentucky, on March 4, 1877, Garrett Morgan was the seventh of 11 children. His mother, Elizabeth (Reed) Morgan, was of Indian and African descent, and the daughter of a Baptist minister. It is uncertain whether Morgan's father was Confederate Colonel John Hunt Morgan or Sydney Morgan, a former slave freed in 1863. Morgan's mixed race heritage would play a part in his business dealings as an adult.

When Morgan was in his mid teens, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, to look for work, and found it as a handyman to a wealthy landowner. Although he only completed an elementary school education, Morgan was able to pay for more lessons from a private tutor. But jobs at several sewing-machine factories were to soon capture his imagination and determine his future. Learning the inner workings of the machines and how to fix them, Morgan obtained a patent for an improved sewing machine and opened his own repair business.

Morgan's business was a success, and it enabled him to marry a Bavarian woman named Mary Anne Hassek, and establish himself in Cleveland. (He and his wife would have three sons during their marriage.)

G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company

Following the momentum of his business success, Morgan's patented sewing machine would soon pave the way to his financial freedom, albeit in a rather unorthodox way: In 1909, Morgan was working with sewing machines in his newly opened tailoring shop—a business he had opened with wife Mary, who had experience as a seamstress—when he encountered woolen fabric that had been scorched by a sewing-machine needle. It was a common problem at the time, since sewing-machine needles ran at such high speeds. In hopes of alleviating the problem, Morgan experimented with a chemical solution in an effort to reduce friction created by the needle, and subsequently noticed that the hairs of the cloth were straighter.

Breathing Device

In 1914, Morgan patented a breathing device, or "safety hood," providing its wearers with a safer breathing experience in the presence of smoke, gases and other pollutants. Morgan worked hard to market the device, especially to fire departments, often personally demonstrating its reliability in fires. Morgan's breathing device became the prototype and precursor for the gas masks used during World War I, protecting soldiers from toxic gas used in warfare. The invention earned him the first prize at the Second International Exposition of Safety and Sanitation in New York City.

There was some resistance to Morgan's devices among buyers, particularly in the South, where racial tension remained palpable despite advancements in African-American rights. In an effort to counteract the resistance to his products, Morgan hired a white actor to pose as "the inventor" during presentations of his breathing device; Morgan would pose as the inventor's sidekick, disguised as a Native American man named "Big Chief Mason," and, wearing his hood, enter areas otherwise unsafe for breathing. The tactic was successful; sales of the device were brisk, especially from firefighters and rescue workers.

In 1916, the city of Cleveland was drilling a new tunnel under Lake Erie for a fresh water supply. Workers hit a pocket of natural gas, which resulted in a huge explosion and trapped workers underground amidst suffocating noxious fumes and dust. When Morgan heard about the explosion, he and his brother put on breathing devices, made their way to the tunnel and entered as quickly as possible. The brothers managed to save two lives and recover four bodies before the rescue effort was shut down.

Despite his heroic efforts, the publicity that Morgan garnered from the incident hurt sales; the public was now fully aware that Morgan was an African American, and many refused to purchase his products. Adding to the detriment, neither the inventor nor his brother were fully recognized for their heroic efforts at Lake Erie—possibly another effect of racial discrimination. Morgan was nominated for a Carnegie Medal for his efforts, but ultimately wasn't chosen to receive the award. Additionally, some reports of the explosion named others as the rescuers.

Later Inventions

While the public's lack of acknowledgement for Morgan's and his brother's roles at the Cleveland explosion was undoubtedly disheartening, Morgan was a voracious inventor and observer who focused on fixing problems, and soon turned his attention to all kinds of things, from hats to belt fasteners to car parts.

Social Activism

Outside of his inventing career, Morgan diligently supported the African-American community throughout his lifetime. He was a member of the newly formed National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was active in the Cleveland Association of Colored Men, donated to Negro colleges and opened an all-black country club. Additionally, in 1920, he launched the African-American newspaper the Cleveland Call (later named the Call and Post).

Death and Legacy

Morgan began developing glaucoma in 1943, and lost most of his sight as a result. The accomplished inventor died in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 27, 1963, shortly before the celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation centennial, an event he had been awaiting. Just before his death, Morgan was honored by the U.S. government for his traffic signal invention, and he was eventually restored to his place in history as a hero of the Lake Erie rescue.

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