8 Inventions By African Americans That Helped Shape Civilization

7 Posted by - December 29, 2022 - BLACK INVENTIONS, BLACK MEN, LATEST POSTS

It goes without saying that African Americans helped to build and shape this country and civilization. Many know that African Americans were responsible for many great inventions over the years, but there are some inventions that we take for granted on a daily basis that many don’t know we’re invented by African Americans. So in honor of Black History Month, SoulTrain.com spotlights just some of the many inventions created by unsung African Americans.

Home Security System closed circuit tv

Nowadays, there are many advanced and sophisticated home security and surveillance systems. Back in the 1960s, however, such systems were not even thought of beyond the simple burglar alarm. In 1966, Marie Van Brittain Brown and her partner Albert Brown applied for an invention patent for a closed-circuit television security system they created.

Potato Chips

potato chipThe folks at Bon-Ton and Wise Potato Chips can thank an African American man for one of the most favorite snacks in the world. In 1865, Hiram Thomas was a chef who created the potato chip out of frustration. An irate customer kept repeatedly sending his serving of potatoes back to the chef for thinner slices. In defiance, Thomas cut the potatoes into very reed thin slices to irk the customer. However, the customer loved them!

Imaging X-Ray Spectometer

Imaging X-Ray SpectometerGeorge Edward Acorn received a B.A. in physics, a master’s degree in physics, and a PhD in atomic and molecular physics. Still, with all of those credentials, Acorn is most noted for his innovation of the imaging of the X-ray spectrometer.


toiletImagine a world without this invention! On December 19, 1899, J.B. Rhodes invented the water closet. Today, it is commonly known as the toilet or commode. Before this invention, many people were using outhouses. It wasn’t until Rhode’s invention that people could use the bathroom in their own homes. And speaking of toilets, Robert Shurney, another black inventor, designed the toilet used aboard the Skylab.

Traffic Light

traffic lightsGarrett A. Morgan’s invention of the red, yellow and green traffic light undoubtedly gave way to fewer accidents in street traffic around the world. Patent date: November 20, 1923. Patent number: 1,475,024.

Fountain Pen

fountain penNext time you use or buy some Bic pens, remember an African American was responsible for it. W.B. Purvis’ original pocket fountain pen had its own ink reservoir that consistently fed ink to the pen’s point. The reservoir could also be refilled if needed. Patent date: January 7, 1890 Patent number 419,065

Air Conditioner

air conditionerIt was a black man who came up with the first prototype of what would later become the modern air conditioner. Louis Latimer’s invention consisted of a fan and cooling coils for reducing temperature and purifying the air. Patent date: January 12, 1886 Patent number: 334.078

Digital Computer

Marvin Charles Stewart invented an arithmetic unit for digital computers. The unit increased the speed and storage of digital computers, used less parts and was superior to the M-Generator type circuit.

Basically, the invention uses arithmetic units for digital computers and utilizes circuits capable of addition, subtraction, multiplication and accumulation. Patent date: July 30, 1968. Patent number: 3,395,271

There are numerous other inventions by African-Americans which can be found in many books including:

Black Inventors of America by McKinley Burt Jr.,

The African Contribution by John M. Weathermax



  • Sherri Johns January 18, 2016 - 3:58 pm

    The first photo is of Bessie Blount Griffin. She invented the emesis basin, was the first black woman to be trainedd at Scotland Yard, and was a nurse and forensic handwriting specialist. She was born in Hickory, VA and passed away in December, 2009 at her home in New Jersey.

  • hHenry July 7, 2017 - 7:02 am

    Thanks a lot for publishing this, it’s exactly what I was looking for.
    Thought I was in for an afternoon of Googling, but everything I need is here.
    A thoroughly useful resource.

  • Sus July 15, 2018 - 8:59 am

    You forgot Benjamin Banneker.

  • Kurt Minford March 31, 2019 - 6:08 pm

    An impressive share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little analysis on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more details? It is highly helpful for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!

  • csr2 speed hack April 1, 2019 - 10:00 am

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. That is a very smartly written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thank you for the post. I will definitely return.

  • psn hack codes - psn hack latest news April 4, 2019 - 10:37 am

    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It actually was once a enjoyment account it. Glance complicated to more added agreeable from you! However, how can we keep in touch?

  • DMC5 April 7, 2019 - 1:58 am

    After looking into a handful of the blog posts on your website, I truly appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I book marked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my web site as well and tell me what you think.

  • DMC5 April 12, 2019 - 11:33 pm

    It’s hard to find knowledgeable people for this topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  • gamefly free trial May 3, 2019 - 8:27 pm

    fantastic submit, very informative. I wonder why the opposite
    specialists of this sector don’t understand
    this. You should proceed your writing. I am sure,
    you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  • Apex Legends Season 1 May 7, 2019 - 7:09 am

    Hi there! I simply wish to give you a huge thumbs up for your excellent info you’ve got right here on this post. I’ll be coming back to your web site for more soon.

  • Apex Legends May 14, 2019 - 5:14 pm

    I blog often and I really thank you for your content. This article has truly peaked my interest. I will take a note of your blog and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your Feed too.

  • Dana Conveniencia May 16, 2019 - 8:32 am

    I was suggested this blog by way of my cousin. I am no longer certain whether this post is written by him as nobody else realize such precise about my difficulty. You’re incredible! Thank you!

  • how to download minecraft free May 16, 2019 - 7:48 pm

    Its like you learn my thoughts! You seem to know so
    much about this, like you wrote the e-book in it or something.
    I believe that you just could do with some % to power the message house a
    little bit, however instead of that, this is fantastic blog.
    A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

  • how to get help in windows 10 May 20, 2019 - 12:55 pm

    I am really loving the theme/design of your website.
    Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility
    problems? A number of my blog readers have complained about my website not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari.
    Do you have any recommendations to help fix this issue?

  • gamefly free trial May 27, 2019 - 12:06 pm

    Can I just say what a comfort to discover someone who truly understands what they are talking about on the web.
    You actually know how to bring an issue to light and make it
    important. A lot more people must read this and understand this
    side of the story. It’s surprising you aren’t more popular because you surely have the gift.

  • gamefly free trial May 27, 2019 - 12:07 pm

    I love it whenever people come together and share ideas.
    Great website, continue the good work!

  • how to get help in windows 10 May 27, 2019 - 12:07 pm

    It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and
    it is time to be happy. I have read this post and
    if I could I want to suggest you some interesting things or advice.
    Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this
    article. I want to read more things about it!

  • how to get help in windows 10 May 27, 2019 - 12:07 pm

    Whoa! This blog looks exactly like my old one!
    It’s on a totally different subject but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

  • how to get help in windows 10 May 27, 2019 - 12:12 pm

    Today, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone and tested
    to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be
    a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.
    I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  • gamefly free trial May 27, 2019 - 12:14 pm

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Well written!

    • Cristian July 8, 2019 - 2:36 pm

      Sorry, fountain pen was invented by the romanian Petrache Poenaru, in 1827, Paris, France.

  • Jasper Goist May 27, 2019 - 8:32 pm

    Good post. Thanks.

  • Wally Defina May 31, 2019 - 1:22 pm

    This is a great post. Thank you for sharing!

  • EllEffemn June 2, 2019 - 4:23 pm

    Keflex Out Of Refrigerator Kwikmed Coupons [url=http://asacdz.com]cialis[/url] Sildenafil Online For Sale How Much Is Cialis Without Insurance Doxycycline Tablets Buy

  • EllEffemn June 10, 2019 - 9:44 pm

    Safe Generic Propecia Finasteride Usos Del Propecia canadian cialis Cialis Generico Andorra

  • Doris July 6, 2019 - 9:42 am