© 2024 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Sound of Science - 'African American Innovators'

African American Innovators

NIU STEAM explores which African American inventors help us live our daily lives easier.

Jasmine: Hi, I'm Jasmine.

Chrissy: And I'm Chrissy.

Jasmine: We're from NIU STEAM and...

Chrissy: This is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

Chrissy: Continuing in our celebration of Black History Month, we are looking today at the contributions that African American scientists and inventors have made to vitally impact the technology and improvements that we see in our everyday life.

Jasmine: Lewis Howard Latimer was a US inventor and patent draftsman of the early 20th century. As a 17 year old custodian and assistant at a patent law firm, taught himself how to use various drafting tools and was hired by Alexander Graham Bell to draw up the patent for the first telephone. Latimer went to work for the US ELECTRIC COMPANY, a rival of Thomas Edison. Though Edison is credited with the discovery of the lightbulb, it was Latimer that modified the carbon filaments inside the bulb. Without these modifications, lightbulbs were inefficient and not practical for everyday use. Latimer is also responsible for inventing what would eventually lead to the modern air conditioner and pursued a patent for a safety elevator that would prevent people from falling out of the elevator and into the elevator shaft.

Chrissy: Garret Morgan was an American inventor, businessman, and community activist during the late 1800's/early 1900's. Morgan has made a strong mark on safety and has saved countless lives as a result. In 1913, he opened the National Safety Device Company and patented a smoke hood that would later be used as the precursor to World War I gas masks worn by soldiers. His most notable contribution is the three light traffic signals we use today. After witnessing a horrible car accident at an intersection that only used red and green lights, Morgan felt there should be more of a warning system in place so that motorists knew when the light was about to change.

Jasmine: You have been listening to the Sound of Science on WNIJ, where you learn something new every day.

Related Stories