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15 Things Invented By Black People  was originally published on

1. The Traffic Light

Garrett Morgan created the traffic light in 1923 after witnessing a car crash at a Cleveland intersection.

2. Closed Circuit TV

In 1966, Marie Van Brittan Brown created a device that sparked the invention of home surveillance cameras. She connected a motorized security camera to a monitor so that images could be viewed on the monitor.

3. The Mail Box

In 1891, Philip Downing created the street letter box that eventually evolved into the metal letterboxes we see on our street corners today.

4. The Laser Cataract Surgey

The Laser Cataract Surgey

Patricia Bath a Howard University graduate created the laserphaco probe in 1986 for laser cataract surgeries. With this device, Bath was able to restore the sight of several individuals who had been blind for over 30 years. Bath was also the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

5. The Touch Tone Phone

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson did groundbreaking research that enabled the invention of the portable fax, the tone telephone, solar cells, fiber optic cables, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting. She was also the first Black woman to graduate from M.I.T. with a Ph. D.

6. The Super Soaker

There a ton of memories with this awesome toy and what’s even better is that it was created by an African American! Former NASA engineer Lonie Johnson created this toy in his spare time back in the 90’s. After several patenting attempts he came up with the name “Super Soaker” and pulled in $200 million dollars in 1991!

7. 3-D Special Effects

Computer graphics designer Marc Hannah co-founded Silicon Graphics Inc. He created computer programs that helped create special effects for films like “Jurassisc Park”, “Aladdin”, “Beauty And The Beast” and so much more.

8. The Blood Bank

Charles Richard Drew was an African American physician, surgeon, and researcher. In the 1940’s he researched and created the blood bank which allows for proper storage and transport of blood. He’s the reason why we can have blood drives today.

9. The Refrigerated Truck

Perishable foods used to be transported in trucks filled with ice. Federick McKinely is responsible for making and patenting a cooling system inside trucks so that they can transport anything. So the next time you see a big semi truck hauling food you’ll know it’s McKinely’s work.

10. Identifying Explosives Spot Test

Dr. Betty Harris was a known expert in the chemistry of explosives. She is responsible for creating and patenting a spot test for identifying explosives in a field environment.

11. Illusion Transmitter

In 1980, NASA employee Valerie Thomas invented the Illusion transmitter. This device used concave mirrors to create images that appear to be real, or in front of a mirror itself. This technology was used by NASA and has been used in surgery rooms and for television movie screen productions.

12. Electret Microphone

Dr. James West was an American inventor and professor responsible for creating the electret transducer or microphone in 1962. He created an inexpensive, highly sensitive, compact microphone that is now used in anything from the microphones on your phone to tape recorders, camcorders, baby monitors and so much more.

13. The First Clock

After taking a pocket watch apart and studying its components Benjamin Banneker made a fully functioning clock out of carved wooden pieces. From this invention in the 1750’s Banneker was able to start his own watch and clock repair business.

14. The Worlds Fastest Computer

Born in Nigeria, Dr. Philip Emeagwali is responsible for creating the worlds fastest computer in 1989. The computer her created was capable of performing 3.1 billion calculations per second.

15. Peanut Related Products

ALthough confused with inventing peanut butter, George Washington Carver is credited with inventing over 300 peanut-related products. As a child, he was called the “plant doctor” because of his interest in plants. He’s responsible for peanut oil which he believed could cure polio.