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Black History: Special Delivery!!

Date

November 23, 2015

Miriam Benjamin: Black Inventor

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

MARIAN BENJAMIN PATENT DRAWING
The Gong and Signal Chair – Patent Drawing

Black Mail Fast Fact: Miriam Benjamin created an invention which would improve customer service within the hotel and restaurant industries. Her invention would also help these industries be more efficient with their staffing. Benjamin developed a system for customers to quietly alert staff when they were in need of service. She called her invention, “The Gong and Signal Chair”.  It was first patented in 1888. Using her invention, the customer was able to press a button on the back of their chair which would relay a signal to hotel or restaurant staff. A light on the chair would also illuminate to show staff where the customer was seated. The invention became so popular that a number of them were even installed in the House of Representatives.  Miriam Benjamin was the second black woman to receive a U.S. patent.

Benjamin Thornton: Invented Telephone Message Recorder

 Black History:  Special Delivery!!

benjamin thornton
Benjamin Thornton Patent Drawing

Black Mail Fast Fact: Black inventor, Benjamin Thornton developed a device for recording voice messages from telephones in 1936. His invention was outfitted with a turntable for a record disc, an electric motor to operate the table, and an electric switch that connected it to the phone line. Utilizing a clock attachment, the machine could also forward messages as well as track what time a call was made. The recorder also had an apparatus that allowed the user to record an outgoing message. Devices invented to record phone messages date back to the late 1800’s. So Thornton’s invention was not the first of its kind. However the devices’ ability to both record and send messages, along with its ability to record the time of messages was quite significant. Thornton’s invention was a predecessor to the answering machine.

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