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Black inventor Otis F. Boykin was born in 1920 in Dallas, Texas. His mother died before his first birthday. His father was employed as a carpenter and later became a minister. Boykin graduated from Fisk University in 1941. While in college, he worked as a laboratory assistant at an aerospace laboratory, testing automatic aircraft controls. Following graduation from Fisk, Boykin was employed as a lab assistant for Majestic Radio and TV Corporation in Chicago, Illinois, and eventually became a supervisor there. In 1944, he began employment with the P.J. Nilsen Research Laboratory. Boykin began graduate studies in 1944 but quickly dropped out because he could not afford the tuition. In 1946, Boykin briefly led his own company, Boykin-Fruth, Inc., where he began developing various inventions.
He obtained his first patent in 1959 for the wire precision resistor. This invention allowed manufacturers to accurately identify the amount of resistance for an individual piece of wire in electronic equipment. In 1961, Boykin obtained another patent for improvements to his original design. The improved resistor was an inexpensive electrical resistor that could withstand extreme variations in temperature without altering the resistor’s performance. Boykin’s invention reduced the cost of production for hundreds of electronic devices while also significantly increasing performance and reliability. The transistor radio was one of the electronic devices impacted by his work. Boykin’s invention also impacted guided missiles, IBM computers, and televisions.
Boykin’s resistor invention would also pave the way for creating the control unit for artificial heart pacemakers. He also invented the electrical capacitator in 1965, the electrical resistance capacitator in 1967, and other consumer products, including a burglar-proof cash register and a chemical air filter. Boykin received patents for 26 electronic devices throughout his career.
Boykin died in Chicago, Illinois, from heart failure in 1982 at 61.
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