Despite the many obstacles that African-American inventors have faced, there is a rich and long history of African-American inventors. One of the first black inventors who was able to obtain a U.S. patent was Thomas L. Jennings, who obtained a patent in 1821 for a dry-cleaning process.
Other early African-American inventors include Henry Blair, who received a patent for a seed planter in 1834 and a corn harvester in 1836, and Granville T. Woods who received 27 patents, beginning with his first patent in 1884 for a steam boiler furnace. He has been described as the "Black Edison."
Modern-day African-American Inventors include Patricia Bath, who has received 5 U.S. patents relating to the treatment of cataracts and her invention of a medical device, the Laserphaco Probe. Mark Dean, computer scientist and inventor, holds three of the 9 original IBM patents, and over 40 patents total. James E. West's more than 40 year career at Bell Labs resulted in him obtaining 47 US patents and more than 200 foreign patents.
Here are some good sites to find information on important African-American inventors and their patents.
- African American Inventors Database
- African-American Inventors
- African-American Inventors: A Sampling of African-American Inventors and Their Inventions
- Inventions and Patents of African-Americans-19th Century
and Patents of African-Americans-20th Century
- Historical African American Inventors
- The Top Ten African-American Inventors
- Major Inventions by African-Americans
- The Black Inventor Online Museum
- Museum of Black Inventions and Innovations
Try the following Google searches to find more information on African-American Inventors. (Use quotes to make the search more targeted.)
African-American Inventors Videos
A Few Black Inventors from the 1800's to 2000
Black Inventors and Inventions
Patent InformationFor more information on patents, see What is a patent?
Recommended Books on African-American Inventors
More BOOKS on Black Inventors!