Dr. Clarence “Skip” Ellis (1943-2014) earned a Ph.D in Computer Science from the University of Illinois. He was the first African American to gain a Ph.D in this area of study. A dedicated educator, he loved to teach students who were new to the field of study and who lacked experience. Ellis was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. Ellis was also instrumental in the development of “groupware” technology. This technology makes it possible for several people to collaborate on a document at the same time. His work made it possible for programs such as Google Docs and Sharepoint software to be developed. He is also credited with inventing the technology we now use to click “icons” on a computer screen to execute computer commands.
Black Mail Fast Fact: On December 23, 1919, Alice H. Parker, an African American inventor from Morristown, NJ received a patent for her design of a gas heating furnace. It was not the first furnace of its kind. But it was a substantial improvement on the original design. Parker’s design would play an important role in providing centralized heating to millions of homes and buildings worldwide. Continue reading “Alice H. Parker: African American Inventor Of A Gas Heating Furnace”→
Andre Reboucas was born in 1838 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was the son of a former slave and a Portuguese tailor. Reboucas was educated at the Military School of Rio de Janeiro and became an engineer after completing studies in Europe. He became famous in Rio de Janeiro for improving water supply to the city, bringing it from fountain heads outside the town. In 1864, Reboucas was named a lieutenant during the Paraguayan War. Naval warfare played a significant role in this military conflict. Reboucas designed an immersible device which could be projected under water, causing an explosion with any ship it hit. The device became known as the torpedo.
After his military service Reboucas began teaching at the Polytechnical School in Rio de Janeiro. He became very wealthy and used his finances to aid in the Brazilian abolition movement to end slavery there. He eventually moved to Funchal Madeira off the coast of Africa. He died there in 1898.
Born in 1942, ophthalmologist, Dr. Patricia Bath, was the first African American female doctor to patent a medical invention. Her patent for the Cataract Lasephaco Probe removes cataracts using a laser device. Her device made cataract removal painless and much more accurate. Throughout her career, Dr. Bath has been focused on the treatment and prevention of blindness. Her invention was patented in 1988. The method in use before her invention used a type of grinding/drill like device to remove cataracts. In the U.S., about half of the vision loss in African Americans is caused by cataracts.
Dr. Bath graduated from Howard University School of Medicine in 1968 and completed additional ophthalmology and corneal transplant training at New York University and Columbia University. She became the first African American female surgeon at UCLA Medical Center and the first woman to be on the faculty of Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA. She is also the founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. Dr. Bath is also credited with introducing “community ophthalmology” a new discipline in the field of ophthalmology. The new discipline incorporates elements of health care, community medicine and clinical ophthalmology. She also incorporated the use of telemedicine into her practice using it to reach remote areas. She identifies the “right to sight” as her credo. She is seen as a pioneer in research and innovation within the field of ophthalmology.
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