Thomas W. Stewart (1823 – 1890) was born in Kalamazoo, MI. He is perhaps, best known for making design improvements to the mop. In 1893, Stewart invented a new mop that had a clamp and springs which allowed the user to press a lever that would wring out the excess water in the mop. He also designed the mop head to be detachable, making it easier to clean and replace.
Stewart also received a patent in 1883 for a station and street indicator. Prior to his invention, there were only street signs that were used to provide warnings at train crossings. Stewart’s invention worked by activating a lever that was built into the train tracks that indicated a train was coming.
Stewart also invented a metal binding machine in 1893. The machine also had the capability of oscillating; making the process of bending steel safer and more efficient.
African American inventor, Jeffrey Nash was inspired to invent the Juppy Baby Walker at the age of 56. Nash had a long career in sales of various products. A gifted salesman, he made millions for his employers and in doing so, always thought about how he could also achieve greater independence and financial freedom for himself.
Nash’s opportunity came in 2008. While at his granddaughters soccer game, he saw a woman teaching her child how to walk. In particular, he noticed that the young mother was hunched over and seemed to be uncomfortable. He also noticed that in trying to help the child walk; the mother was pulling on the child’s arms which could have resulted in injury to the child. These observations served as a catalyst for the invention of the Juppy Baby Walker. Upon returning home to Las Vegas after the soccer game, Nash immediately began to work on developing a prototype design of what would become, the Juppy Baby Walker. After 4 attempts, Nash completed the final product design.
At same time, he was launching his new product, the economy was also doing very poorly. Nash was notified by his employer that his pay was being cut, due to the economic downturn. He took this as a sign that it was time for him launch his own business and that’s exactly what he did. He began testing his new invention on the children of customers in the retail store where he was working. Based on their feedback he further refined the product design. He then hired a patent attorney and secured a manufacturing company to begin production. Nash took 3 weeks off from work and began marketing the product in Nevada and California. After 3 weeks, he had sold $12,000 worth of product. Encouraged by the positive response, Nash emptied his 401k, sold his home and car in order to invest in his business. He has since become a successful entrepreneur. Nash received his patent for the Jumpy Baby Walker in 2015. He is still working hard to grow the business. His product is currently available at major retailers such as Walmart, Sears, and Amazon, etc.
Another interesting fact about Jeffrey Nash is that his daughter is married to actor Forrest Whittaker. In launching his company he has not sought endorsement or financial investment in the product from the couple. He feels the product is strong enough to be successful without celebrity endorsement.
Madame CJ Walker, was a pioneering entrepreneur developing hair care products that catered to black women. She was orphaned at the age of 7, widowed with a young child by age 18, and could barely read or write……YET she let none of this stop her. In achieving success, she also wanted to empower other black women to be successful by creating employment opportunities for them. She shared this quote at a National Negro Business League Convention:
“I am not merely satisfied in making money for myself. For I am endeavoring to provide employment for hundreds of the women of my race”
African American Physicist, Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, has been awarded a $1.1M grant to develop her patent-pending cancer treatment using laser activated nanoparticles. Dr. Green currently serves as an assistant professor of physics at Tuskegee University. There are less than 100 black female physicists in the U.S. She earned her masters degree and Ph.D from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. When speaking about her achievements, Dr. Green says she is really no different than anyone else. She also says,
Black Mail Fast Fact: Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922 – 1977) patented a home security/surveillance device in 1966. She applied for the patent along with her husband, Albert Brown. The home security/surveillance system was created from a motorized camera to show images on a monitor (patent #3,482,037). An additional feature of the home security system was that it could be used to unlock a door via remote control.
In an interview with the New York Times, she shared that she and her husband invented the device due to the slow response times of the police officers in their neighborhood. She felt the invention would help her to feel safer when she was at home alone. Her invention would be a forerunner of today’s modern home security systems.
For many years, anyone wishing to mail a letter, would have to go to their local post office. That all changed when Philip B. Downing designed a metal box for storage of mail. He patented this device on October 27, 1891. He called the device a “street letter box”. It is the predecessor of today’s mailbox.
Prior to the “street letter box”, Downing also patented an electrical switch that could be used by railroads. The switch allowed workers to turn power off and on to trains at the appropriate times. Downing’s electrical switch was catalyst for later inventors who would create other types of electrical switches such as light switches.
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