Black History:  Special Delivery!!

Dr. James West
Dr. James West

We have African American inventor, Dr. James Edward West to thank for inventing the microphone. 90% of electric microphones used today are a result of his invention. This includes telephones, tape recorders, camcorders, baby monitors and hearing aids.

West was born in 1931 in Prince Edwards County, VA. Dr. West had an interest in science dating back to his childhood. However, his parents, concerned about racism felt it would be better for him to pursue a career as a physician rather than a scientist. Dr. West and his colleague, Gerhard Sessler, invented the mic (officially known as the Electroacoustic Transducer Electret Microphone) while with Bell Laboratories. They received a patent in 1962. By 1968, the microphone was being mass produced. Dr.West began his career at Bell Labs as an intern and joined the company full time in 1957. He has received many awards and honors for his invention. During his career, Dr. West was an advocate and supported programs that encourage students of color to pursue science related careers. James Edward West now works with Johns Hopkins University as a research professor

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