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Did You Know These Everyday Items Were Invented by Black Inventors?

Discover the Incredible Innovations of Black Inventors Behind Everyday Items You Use!

Did You Know These Everyday Items Were Invented by Black Inventors?

Everyday Items Invented by Black Inventors


It's no secret that black inventors have made countless contributions to society, yet their stories often go untold. It's crucial to recognize the importance of their contributions and the impact they had on our everyday lives. Here are some examples of everyday items that were invented by black inventors.

Carbon Filament for the Lightbulb

The lightbulb is one of the most important inventions of all time, and it was made possible by the carbon filament. The inventor of the carbon filament was not Thomas Edison, as popularly believed, but rather Lewis Latimer, an African-American inventor. Latimer worked alongside Alexander Graham Bell and Hiram Maxim and was a crucial member of their team, his expertise with electric lighting making him a valuable asset. In 1881, roughly two years after Edison had patented the lightbulb, Latimer invented the carbon filament that made the lightbulb last longer and become more efficient.

Latimer showed unwavering dedication to his craft and continued to make significant contributions. He went on to work for the United States Electric Lighting Company, where he helped install electric lighting for the entire city of New York. He was also involved in the patenting of the elevator, which was made safer and more efficient by an improved braking system.

Modern Hairbrush

Lyda Newman, an African American hairdresser and inventor, revolutionized haircare by inventing a secure hairbrush. The brushes available in that time were inadequate to meet the needs of thick and curly hair. Newman saw the opportunity to improve the existing models and created a brush with evenly spaced synthetic bristles that were both gentle and tight. The hairbrush also had vents to allow air to circulate to the scalp, reducing sweating, and making the brush more comfortable to use.

The invention of the hairbrush was not the only contribution Newman made. She was also a staunch women's rights activist and joined several movements for black and women's rights. Her activism led her to spend significant amounts of time in courtrooms, fighting for the rights of women and minorities.

Folding Chair

The folding chair is an everyday item present in most homes, offices, and public spaces. However, the invention of the folding chair was not by a well-known inventor, but rather by a man named John Brooker, a black inventor. In 1889, Brooker invented the folding chair, which quickly became a popular item for outdoor events, picnics, and public functions.

The folding chair quickly gained popularity thanks to its compact size and folding mechanism that made it easy to transport and store. The innovation of the folding chair led to a surge in outdoor events and public meetings, as people no longer had to worry about carrying heavy chairs from one venue to the next.

Blood Bank

The concept of blood banks has saved countless lives since its inception, but it was Charles Drew, an African American doctor, who revolutionized the concept. During World War II, Drew led the effort to establish blood banks in the United States, with the aim of ensuring a constant supply of blood for injured soldiers.

Drew invented a way of storing and transporting blood that made it possible to process and separate blood components, such as plasma and red blood cells, for safe transfusions. The success of Drew's blood bank concept led to the establishment of blood banks across the nation.


Black inventors have made numerous contributions to society and helped shape our everyday lives. Recognizing their contributions is vital in understanding and appreciating the diversity of talents that made these innovations possible. These four items are just a few examples of the incredible contributions black inventors have made to everyday items. There are undoubtedly more, and their stories deserve to be told and celebrated.

Household Items

Black inventors have created some of the most innovative and practical household items that we use every day without realizing who invented them. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant black inventors who have revolutionized our lives with their creations.

Kitchen Appliances

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and the black inventors have made a significant contribution to kitchen appliances that we use daily. Here are some of the top kitchen appliances invented by black inventors:

Frederick McKinley Jones’ Refrigerator

Frederick McKinley Jones invented the first refrigerated truck in 1940, which was a revolutionary concept at that time. The refrigerated truck helped in transporting perishable goods in a cool temperature, which ultimately prevented food from spoiling during transportation. Jones’s invention was a significant milestone in the food industry, helping in the storage, transportation, and preservation of food.

Electric Oven by Thomas Elkins

Thomas Elkins was an African-American inventor who invented the Electric Oven. The electric oven made cooking more convenient and less time-consuming than the conventional oven. Elkin invented the electric oven in 1885.

Automatic Bread-making Machine by Joseph Lee

Joseph Lee is known for his invention of the automatic bread-making machine, which was patented in 1902. Lee’s invention revolutionized the food industry and provided a way to mass-produce bread that was not possible before.

Safety tools

Safety is a crucial factor in our daily lives, and black inventors have contributed significantly to the safety tools that we use every day. Here are some of the top safety tools invented by black inventors:

Garrett Morgan’s Gas Mask

Garrett Morgan invented the gas mask in 1914. The gas mask was designed for firefighters to breathe clean air during rescues and fire extinguishing while avoiding inhaling smoke. Morgan’s invention refined the gas mask to be lighter and smaller than the previous models. This improvement made a huge difference during World War I, where Morgan’s gas masks saved countless lives from poisonous gas.

Fire Extinguisher by Thomas J. Martin

Thomas J. Martin was an African-American inventor who patented the fire extinguisher in 1872. It was the first chemical fire extinguisher, which used a solution of baking soda and sulfuric acid to extinguish flames. Martin’s invention was a significant step in reducing fire-related casualties.

Home Security System by Marie Van Brittan Brown

Marie Van Brittan Brown invented the first home security system in 1966. The system was intended to keep people safe by allowing them to see and communicate with whoever was outside their home before opening the door. The system included four peepholes, a camera that could slide up and down to look at the different angles, and a two-way microphone to allow communication with visitors. This was a major breakthrough because it prompted others to work on more sophisticated home security systems.

Cleaning tools

Cleaning can be a challenging and time-consuming task, but black inventors have created several cleaning tools that have made cleaning more convenient and comfortable. Here are some of the prominent cleaning tools invented by black inventors:

Synthetic Cleaning Product by Lloyd Augustus Hall

Lloyd Augustus Hall invented a synthetic cleaning product in 1898. Hall’s invention was the first soap that could clean without creating soap scum. His perseverance and continuous research in cleaning products ultimately paved the way for today's cleaning industry.

Self-wringing Mop by John Standard

John Standard invented a self-wringing mop in 1893, which revolutionized the cleaning industry. His invention quickly gained popularity as it allowed people to clean their homes more efficiently and comfortably without having to bend down and wring the mop by hand.

Illusion Transmitter for Relaxing Moment by Valerie Thomas

Valerie Thomas is a visionary African American inventor who invented an Illusion transmitter for relaxing moments. Her invention creates an optical illusion by reflecting light through the lens and a series of mirrors. The optical illusion helps the user relax and calm down. Thomas invented this in 1980 and gained much interest from NASA, leading her to work with them for several years.

In conclusion, black inventors have been making significant contributions to global progress in various fields, including household items. Their inventions have improved our daily lives and made them more comfortable and manageable. These inventors were met with opposition in their time, but despite the challenges, they broke barriers and left a remarkable legacy.

Beauty and Fashion Accessories

Personal Care Items

Many everyday personal care items have been invented by black inventors throughout history. The hairbrush is one such item, and it was invented by Lyda Newman in the late 1800s. Newman’s hairbrush was specially designed for those with coarse hair and was one of the first-ever brushes to feature synthetic bristles.

Madam CJ Walker was another prominent black inventor in the beauty industry. She created a line of hair care products specifically for black hair, which was a major breakthrough in the industry. Walker’s line of hair care products was incredibly successful, and she became one of the first female self-made millionaires in America. Today, her legacy lives on through the Madam CJ Walker Beauty Culture line of hair products.

Charles Drew was another influential figure in the personal care industry, particularly in the field of medicine. Drew’s invention, the blood bank apparatus, revolutionized the field of blood transfusions. He discovered that the plasma in blood could be separated from the red blood cells, which allowed it to be stored and used in future transfusions. Drew’s invention saved countless lives and continues to be an integral part of modern medicine.

Glasses and Fashion Accessories

Black inventors have also made significant contributions to the fashion industry, particularly in the field of glasses and fashion accessories. Patricia Bath was the inventor of the Cataract Laserphaco Probe, which revolutionized cataract surgery. Her invention made it possible for the procedure to be less invasive, safer, and more effective.

Marie Brown was another influential inventor in the fashion industry. She created the Home Permanent Wave Machine, which revolutionized the way women styled their hair. This machine used electricity to perm hair and created the classic “permanent wave” hairstyle that was popular in the mid-20th century.

George Crum is another black inventor who made a significant impact on the fashion industry. He invented the potato chips recipe in the late 1800s. The story goes that a customer at his restaurant sent back a plate of fried potatoes complaining that they were too thick. In response, Crum sliced the potatoes extra thin, fried them until they were crispy and added salt. The customer loved them, and the potato chip was born. Today, potato chips are one of the most popular snacks in the world.

These inventors, along with countless others, have made significant contributions to everyday items that many of us take for granted. Their work has revolutionized entire industries and changed the course of history. Thanks to their ingenuity and hard work, we have a better quality of life today than ever before.

Medical Items

Black inventors have contributed to various fields, including medicine. They have created groundbreaking inventions that have helped shaped the medical world as we know it today. Here are some everyday medical items invented by black inventors:


Prosthetics are artificial devices that are designed to replace a missing limb or body part. Black inventors have played a significant role in creating prosthetic devices that have helped millions of people worldwide.

Percy Lavon Julian’s cortisone synthesis was a breakthrough in the field of medicine. His invention enabled synthetic cortisone to be developed and used as a treatment for inflammation and other medical conditions that affect the joints, bones, and muscles. It has been used to treat various diseases such as arthritis, asthma, lupus, and cancer.

John W. Love’s pencil sharpener was an innovation that helped people with prosthetic hands. It was designed to be easily operated with one hand, allowing individuals with prosthetics to sharpen their pencils independently. Love was inspired to create the pencil sharpener after seeing a fellow soldier with a prosthetic arm who was struggling to sharpen his pencil.

Otis Boykin’s heart pacemaker control device was a significant breakthrough in the field of medical technology. It is designed to regulate the heartbeat of individuals who have heart conditions. Boykin's invention has saved countless lives and has become a standard medical device used by cardiologists worldwide.

Medical Equipment

Medical equipment is designed to diagnose, treat, and monitor medical conditions. Here are some notable medical equipment developed by black inventors:

Dr. Patricia Bath’s laser cataract surgery device has revolutionized the field of ophthalmology. It has helped millions of people worldwide to restore their vision. Her invention made it possible for patients to have a painless and accurate cataract surgery, which has significantly reduced complications and improved outcomes.

Otis Boykin’s artificial heart pacemaker control unit was a crucial innovation in the field of cardiology. His invention provided a more reliable way to regulate heartbeats, ensuring that patients with heart conditions could live longer and healthier lives. Boykin's device was smaller and less expensive than previous models, making it more accessible to those who needed it.

George Carruthers’s ultraviolet camera was a groundbreaking invention that enabled the study of celestial objects and space. The camera was used by NASA scientists in the Apollo 16 mission to capture images of the earth’s atmosphere and ultraviolet rays on the moon. Carruther's invention has provided valuable data that has helped to deepen our understanding of our universe.

Black inventors have made significant contributions to the medical field, developing revolutionary devices that have helped millions of people worldwide. Their innovations continue to inspire people of all ages, races, and backgrounds, and have advanced medical technology to new heights.

Transportation Items

Black inventors have contributed significantly to innovations in the transportation industry. From railway technology to motor vehicles, their inventions have changed the way we travel. Here are some everyday items invented by black inventors:

Railway technology

Granville Woods was an African American inventor who developed the automatic air brake and railway communications system. He filed over 60 patents in his lifetime, many of which were related to railway technology. His invention of the automatic air brake was a significant contribution to the safety of trains. Prior to this, trains relied on manually operated air brakes, which often resulted in accidents due to human error. Granville’s automatic air brake solved this problem by using compressed air to control the braking system, making it safer and more efficient.

Elijah McCoy was another black inventor who revolutionized the railway industry with his invention of the oil-drip cup. The oil-drip cup was designed to lubricate the moving parts of the steam engine while it was in motion. Prior to this invention, trains had to be stopped frequently to manually lubricate the engine. Elijah’s invention made it possible for trains to travel long distances without the need for frequent stops, improving the speed and efficiency of railway transportation.

Motor Vehicles

The invention of the motor vehicle was a game-changer in the transportation industry, and black inventors were not left behind. Here are some black inventors who played a significant role in motor vehicle innovation:

Richard Spikes was an African American inventor who developed the automatic gear shift. The automatic gear shift has become an everyday item in most modern cars, enabling drivers to switch gears easily. Prior to Richard’s invention, drivers had to switch gears manually, which was not only inconvenient but also dangerous. Richard’s invention made driving safer and more comfortable, and it’s still in use today.

Garret Morgan was another black inventor who changed the way we drive today with his invention of the three-way traffic signal. Before his invention, traffic signals only had two settings, stop and go. This made driving more hazardous and caused frequent accidents. Garret’s invention of the three-way traffic signal solved this problem by introducing a caution period between the stop and go signals. This gave drivers time to cross the intersection safely and reduced the number of accidents on the roads.

Katherine J. Blodgett was a black female inventor who invented non-reflective glass. This may not seem like a significant contribution to the transportation industry, but it has become an essential item in cars. Prior to Katherine’s invention, car windshields were made of regular glass that reflected light, making it difficult for drivers to see clearly, especially during foggy or rainy weather. Katherine’s invention of non-reflective glass allowed drivers to have clear visibility in all weather conditions, making driving safer and more comfortable.

In conclusion, black inventors have played a significant role in transportation innovation, from railway technology to motor vehicles. Their inventions have made traveling safer, more efficient, and more comfortable for all of us. It’s important to recognize their contributions and give them the credit they deserve.

Everyday Items Invented by Black Inventors

Throughout history, black inventors have had significant contributions to the world, and they have paved the way for modern-day inventions that we use today. It’s essential to recognize their crucial role in inventions that have impacted our daily lives, and most importantly, to give credit where it's due. Here are some everyday items invented by black inventors that we commonly use today.

The Traffic Light

The traffic light is an everyday item that we use so often that we may take it for granted. However, it's essential to note that it was invented by a black inventor named Garrett Morgan in 1923. Morgan's invention of the traffic light saves countless lives and has prevented accidents on the road. Over ninety years later, his invention is still useful and has become an integral part of our daily lives.

The Refrigerated Truck

The refrigerated truck is another item that we take for granted, but without it, our food and drink options would not be the same. Invented by Frederick McKinley Jones, the refrigerated truck made its debut in 1940. Before Jones's invention, food delivery companies had a challenging time delivering perishable items because they could not keep the food fresh. Jones' invention changed all that by bringing temperature-controlled refrigeration to the trucks used for transportation.

The Super Soaker Water Gun

The Super Soaker is a popular water gun that has delighted children, adults, and many outdoor enthusiasts for decades. The Super Soaker water gun was invented by Lonnie Johnson, a former NASA engineer. Johnson's curiosity about pressurized water led him to create the Super Soaker in 1984, which was initially designed for use as a pressurized water gun used in fire-fighting before spawning a toy version. The Super Soaker water gun is still popular and is sold in stores worldwide.

The Hairbrush

In the early 20th century, black people experienced a lot of hair breakage and loss because of lack of proper hair care facilities that catered to their unique hair texture. In 1898, Lyda Newman, an African American inventor, came up with a solution to address this problem and invented the first hairbrush with synthetic bristles. The hairbrush with synthetic bristles was more gentle on ethnic hair and made hair breakage less of a problem. Her invention has improved how black people care for their hair and solved a problem that was unique to their hair texture.


A pacemaker is a heart device that regulates the heartbeat, and it's used to treat heart rate problems. The pacemaker was invented by Otis Boykin - an African-American inventor - in 1951. Although the pacemaker has undergone significant changes and updates since his invention, Otis Boykin's patent is still a fundamental piece of technology that has saved countless lives.

The Ironing Board

The ironing board is an essential household item used for pressing and removing the wrinkles in clothes. Without it, we would have to improvise to iron our clothes properly. The modern ironing board looks very different compared to the first ironing board patented by an African American woman named Sarah Boone in 1892. Sarah Boone designed and patented an ironing board that was better suited for ironing women's clothing, which was more fitted than men's clothing at the time. Her invention has changed the way we iron our clothes and has made the task more comfortable and efficient.


Recap of the Article

Black inventors have had significant contributions to the world, and their inventions have paved the way for modern-day items we commonly use. The everyday items invented by black inventors, like the traffic light, pacemaker, Super Soaker, hairbrush, refrigerated truck, and ironing board, have improved our daily lives. Recognizing the importance of black inventors helps us to appreciate their significant contributions and also inspires future inventors to keep creating. If we write off their contributions, we diminish their work and minimize not only their creativity but their impact. Honoring black inventors' contributions is one of the first steps in acknowledging and rectifying past injustices while providing a more nuanced understanding of history to future generations.

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