Lewis Latimer (1848 – 1928)
What He Invented: The Carbon Filament For The Light Bulb.
Why It’s Important: Latimer is one of the greatest inventors of all time. Thomas Edison may have invented the electric lightbulb, but Latimer helped make it a common feature in American households. In 1881 he received a patent for inventing a method of producing carbon filaments, which made the bulbs longer-lasting, more efficient and cheaper.
In 1876, he worked with Alexander Graham Bell to draft the drawings required for the patent of Bell’s telephone.
Elijah McCoy (1844-1929)
What He Invented: A Railroad Lubrication Machine.
Why It’s Important: McCoy, who was from Canada, invented a lubrication device to make railroad operation more efficient. After studying the inefficiencies inherent in the existing system of oiling axles, McCoy invented a lubricating cup that distributed oil evenly over the engine’s moving parts. He obtained a patent for this invention in 1872, which allowed trains to run continuously for long periods of time without pausing for maintenance.
What He Invented: The Modern-Day Fireproof Safe
Why It Is Important: When Henry Brown patented a “receptacle for storing and preserving papers on November 2, 1886” This was a fire and accident safe container made of forged metal, which could be sealed with a lock and key. Anyone who has ever had important documents stored in a safe and saved in a fire can thank Brown.
Granville T. Woods (1856-1910)
What He Invented: The Multiplex Telegraph.
Why It’s Important: The Multiplex Telegraph was a device that sent messages between train stations and moving trains. His work assured a safer and better public transportation system for the cities of the United States.