Black Speculative Tech – Uses of Technology in Black Science Fiction, Part 1

I’ve always considered the term “science fiction,” as applied to writing, film and other speculative media involving scientific concerns, to be somewhat inadequate. It has always seemed to me that the worlds created within the pages or upon the screen are literally written into existence, brought to life, fully functioning and self-sustaining in the imaginations and minds of the viewers and readers, whereas the term “fiction” would seem to deny the world its possibility of being.

Science fiction also denotes a false sense of cause and effect, as though the writing or film is influenced by the field of science in a unilateral direction, instead of both science and speculative works being mutually influenced by each other. Science and technology have benefitted from the imaginations of science fiction writers as much as the reverse, and many sci-fi writers are, in fact, scientists, or are consulted by scientists when their work predicts the future or thinks up new possibilities and uses for technology. Many of the words and terms that we believe to have been fashioned in a laboratory, such as “zero gravity,” “ion drive,” and “robotics” were first used in science-fiction stories, and subsequently integrated into science jargon. And any sci-fi writer will tell you that extensive research into the scientific area that your story is focused on is crucial and perpetual. Likely, the same is true for other artists and performers whose works are speculative or science fictional in nature.

In this ongoing examination, we will look at the use of technology in the writings and art of popular and contemporary Black speculative writers and artists, what the technology comments on or correspond to in reality, how that technology anticipates some later development in science, or how the work expands or redefines the meaning of technology.

Black No More: Being an Account of the Strange and Wonderful Workings of Science in the Land of the Free, AD 1933-1940 written in 1931 by George Schuyler, tells the story of a technology invented by a Black scientist named Dr. Crookman that changes a Black person into a white person. The transforming technology seems to anticipate the skin-bleaching phenomenon that would later grip societies all around the world. Although many sources trace skin-lightening techniques back to ancient times, skin-lightening cream did not come into mass production until the 1960s. In 1940, it was discovered that the chemical compound hydroquinone would depigment skin in people of color wearing rubber gloves made of the compound. In 1978, the Food and Drug Administration would issue proposed rules for over-the-counter drugs containing hydroquinone, which included skin-bleaching products. The chemical has since been banned in several countries, but remains available over the counter in the United States if it contains the chemical below a certain percentage. In Schuyler’s time, just as in 2014, lighter skin means a higher rung on the social hierarchy, along with better social and economic opportunities. Crookman’s machine, described as “a cross between a dentist’s chair and an electric chair,” also anticipates the use of cosmetic surgery to alter appearance. The technology in the novel changes not only the Black person’s skin pigmentation, but hair texture and color, nose and lips.

In her short story Like Daughter (appearing in the Dark Matter anthology), speculative author Tananarive Due paints an eerie picture of “designer babies” taken to its most extreme conclusion. Synthesizing the concepts of genetics, epigenetics, trauma and memory, Due’s story, released in 2001, seems to anticipate the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis to pre-select preferred qualities of a child, such as its eye color and gender, and advances in assisted reproductive technology that could eventually allow parents to genetically engineer a child.

Amiri Baraka has two works in particular which are a speculative re-imagining of the function and use of technology. Rhythm Travel, also found in the Dark Matter anthology, envisions a way of traversing space-time that allows the traveler to “be the music,” disappearing and reappearing wherever and whenever the music is played. This 1996 story is an interesting parallel to Baraka’s earlier 1969 essay Technology and Ethos, where he calls for us to dramatically redefine and create new technologies that push beyond the boundaries established by the politics of the white scientific institution. The Molecular Anyscape used in Rhythm Travel appears to be one of the machines produced by the spirit that Baraka refers to in Technology and Ethos.

What are some other uses of or comments on technology in the speculative works of Black writers, artists and performers?

Rasheedah Phillips is a Philadelphia public interest attorney, speculative fiction writer, the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair, and a founding member of She recently independently published her first speculative fiction collection, “Recurrence Plot (and Other Time Travel Tales).”

A Look Back in History: Alain Locke — Educator, Father of the Harlem Renaissance

The Father of the Harlem Renaissance

Alain LeRoy Locke was born in Philadelphia on Sept. 13, 1886. He attended Central High School and the Philadelphia School of Pedagogy in 1902. Locke graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1907. He became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned degrees in English and philosophy.

Locke faced significant barriers as an African-American despite being accomplished in academia. Even though Locke was the first African-American Rhodes scholar, he was denied admission to several colleges at the University of Oxford because of his race. Then in 1907, he gained entry into Hertford College, where he studied for four years.

Locke was a distinguished scholar and educator. During his lifetime, he developed the notion of “ethnic race.” Locke believed that race was just a social and cultural category rather than a biological one.

Locke was dubbed the “Father of the Harlem Renaissance” because he emphasized the need for Black artists to explore African culture. Through his efforts, the Harlem Renaissance movement gained national attention and historical significance. He wrote on the Harlem Riots of 1935 and worked tirelessly to understand the social realities of Harlem with figures. Locke published his work in The Survey Graphic Harlem Number published March, 1925.

Locke edited the Bronze Booklet that showcases the works of African-Americans. For two decades, he reviewed literature by and about blacks in Opportunity and Phylon. He regularly wrote about Blacks for Britannica’s Book of the Year. His works include Four Negro Poets (1927), Frederick Douglass, a Biography of Anti-Slavery (1935), Negro Art — Past and Present (1936), and The Negro and His Music (1936).

In December 1925, Locke published The New Negro: An Interpretation. Locke coined this phrase, “The New Negro,” in 1925. He believed that there was a potential for Black equality. No longer would Blacks allow themselves to adjust or comply with the unreasonable requests of a white-majority society.

Today, the Alain Locke Charter Academy in Chicago is one of the country’s most successful charter schools. The school was founded in September 1999.

8 Books of Critical Analysis and Essays on Black Speculative, Science Fiction, Superheroes and Horror

Books of critical analysis and essays on Black speculative, science fiction, superheroes and horror:

1. Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation edited by Sheena C. Howard and Ronald L. Jackson II (2013) is an analytic history of the diverse contributions of Black artists to the medium of comics. Covering comic books, superhero comics, graphic novels and cartoon strips from the early 20th century to the present, the book explores the ways in which Black comic artists have grappled with such themes as the Black experience, gender identity, politics and social media.

2. Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film by Adilifu Nama (2008) is the first book-length study of African-American representation in science fiction film. Black Space demonstrates that science fiction cinema has become an important field of racial analysis, a site where definitions of race can be contested and post-civil rights race relations (re)imagined.

3. Race in American Science Fiction by Isiah Lavender III (2011) offers a systematic classification of ways that race appears and how it is silenced in science fiction, while developing a critical vocabulary designed to focus attention on often-overlooked racial implications. These focused readings of science fiction contextualize race within the genre’s better-known master narratives and agendas.

4. Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from 1890s to Present by Robin Means Coleman (2011) presents a unique social history of blacks in America through changing images in horror films. Throughout the text, the reader is encouraged to unpack the genre’s racialized imagery, as well as the narratives that make up popular culture’s commentary on race. Offering a comprehensive chronological survey of the genre, this book addresses a full range of black horror films, including mainstream Hollywood fare, as well as art-house films, Blaxploitation films, direct-to-DVD films, and the emerging U.S./hip-hop culture-inspired Nigerian “Nollywood” Black horror films.

5 African-Americans Making an Impact in The Video Game Industry

Morgan Gray

Morgan Gray is a veteran in the video game industry and has worked on many popular games, such as Tomb Raider, Star Wars and most recently The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. Although Gray has worked on many mainstream games, he’s very ready to see a change in gaming when it comes to race. According to an interview he did with, Gray stated:

“I am sick of playing the average white dude character. And I’m sick of playing a black stereotype. … As a player I want to have more experiences other than the futuristic super soldier white guy to the unlikely hero white guy. There’s that line where you’re playing you, and you’re playing the character. It’s sort of like, are you behind the character pushing? Are you holding hands with the character in your mind? And for me, I’d like to get more of relating to this character.”

Karisma Williams

Senior Experience Developer/Designer for Xbox Kinect

As a senior experience developer/designer, Karisma Williams designs and develops the various onscreen interfaces, which include menus, interaction models and onscreen elements. In addition to her work at Microsoft, Williams also serves as creative director of, an independent UX development company.

Gordon Bellamy

Gordon Bellamy has spent the past 19 years producing and marketing interactive content and developing strategic business partnerships with video game publishers, social media developers and technology partners.

He has worked with major companies like MTV, EA Sports and Spike TV. He was named EA’s “rookie of the year” for his work on marketing the NFL Madden series and was instrumental in creating Spike TV’s Video Game Awards show.

8 Calls for Submissions for Blerd and Afrofuturist Creators

  1. Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany will honor science fiction’s living legend, the author of over 20 novels, approximately as many short stories, five notable memoirs and counting, and 10 essential books of genre criticism. What we’re looking for: We want stories and critical essays that relate in some way to the strength and beauty of Samuel R. Delany’s body of work. This relationship can be made evident through allusions to the author himself; through allusions to his work’s titles, characters, situations, settings, etc.; through evoking a Delanyesque atmosphere; or through analysis of any of these elements, in the case of nonfiction. We’re hoping for essays that elucidate his important, lasting contributions to literature; and for fiction inspired by these contributions.

Wordcount limits: 1,000 to 10,000 for prose
Pay: minimum .05/word up to $400 total per story/essay for original prose; minimum .02/word up to $160 total per story/essay for reprint prose.
Deadline: Dec. 1, 2014

More info:

  1. The Afrofuturist Affair 4th Annual Charity & Costume Ball has expanded space-time from one evening to a monthlong celebration of Afrofuturism. In addition to the 4th Annual Costume Ball on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, in Philadelphia, we will have events throughout November, including workshops, dance party, readings, book club, film screenings, art exhibit and more. We are seeking self-identified Afrofuturists to perform or display their Black sci-fi, spec-fic, and Afrofuturistic themed work at the Ball. We are also seeking submissions for workshops and presentations.

Submission guidelines: To share your ideas, talents, and proposed performances for inclusion in this year’s celebrations, please email [email protected] with Name, contact info, title and description of proposed performance/art/workshop, and website, and “Charity Ball” in the subject line.

           Deadline: Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014

More info:!events/cee5

  1. TU BOOKS, the fantasy, science fiction and mystery imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS, award-winning publisher of children’s books, is pleased to announce the second annual NEW VISIONS AWARD. The NEW VISIONS AWARD will be given for a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction or mystery novel by a writer of color. The award winner receives a cash prize of $1,000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first-time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $500.

Submissions guidelines: The contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a middle grade or young adult novel published. Only unagented manuscripts will be accepted. Work that has been published in its entirety in any format (including online and self-publishing as well as other countries) is not eligible. Manuscripts should address the needs of children of color by providing stories with which they can identify and relate, and which promote a greater understanding of one another. Submissions may be fantasy, science fiction, or mystery for children ages 12 to 18. Realistic stories without a mystery or speculative component will not be considered.

Deadline: Oct. 31, 2014

More info:

  1. Literary Orphans Journal, a Chicago-based online literary magazine, is a collaborative writing and arts platform, designed to present original literary work of quality, illuminated by cutting-edge photography and visual crafts, while celebrating individualism with a belief that such exposure will instigate a flowering of personal agency, and contribute to new and progressive understandings of social diversity across geographic spaces. Literary Orphans Journal is proud to announce its upcoming “Black Thought” issue. Named after the lead emcee of the Grammy Award-winning group The Roots, the “Black Thought” issue aims to capture the fluidity of African-American literature, as reflected by its creators. This issue will publish literature from Black people who identify as queer or transgender, or are stout atheists, or who deal daily with mental illness, or who love fantasy and science fiction and comic books, who struggle with their identities within the “Black community.”

Submissions guidelines: Poetry – 3-5 poems per submission; one poem per page. Prose (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction) – All genres are acceptable. 500 – 5,000-word length maximum. Novel excerpts are acceptable. Art and Photography – All mediums are welcome. 300dpi minimum resolution, 1200px longest side. Title, Medium, Year (Skyfall, Oil Painting, 2014) Please include artist statement, if applicable. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable; please notify us immediately if submission is accepted elsewhere.

Deadline: Sept. 30

More info:

  1. Escape Pod is the premier science fiction podcast magazine. Every week we bring you short stories from some of today’s best science fiction stories, in convenient audio format for your computer or MP3 player. Diversity:  Escape Pod welcomes submissions from writers of all backgrounds. We are especially interested in seeing more submissions from people of backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented or excluded from traditional publishing, including, but not limited to, women, people of color, LGBTQ or non-binary gender people, persons with disabilities, members of religious minorities, and people from outside the United States.  Our goal is to publish science fiction that reflects the diversity of the human race, so we strongly encourage submissions from these or any other underrepresented groups.

Submissions guidelines: We’re primarily interested in short fiction. We want short stories between 2,000 and 6,000 words. The sweet spot’s somewhere between 3,500 and 5,000 words. We pay $.06 a word for new fiction at this length, $.03 a word for reprints. ($100 minimum payment) We do buy flash fiction, on occasion, and pay the same rates. ($20 minimum)

Deadline: Rolling basis

More info:

  1. Midnight Echo is OPEN to submission until Oct. 31. The theme is SINISTER. What does SINISTER mean to you? Is it a character; a shadowy, nightmare figure? Or is it an atmosphere; a foreboding air of doom? Does the word fill you with apprehension, or maybe excitement? Or is the vision in your head something we cannot begin to imagine? Kaaron Warren, our guest editor for Midnight Echo Issue 11, wants to know. She is open to any interpretation of the theme in any style, but she wants to hear original voices. Take a chance. Send us the story you’ve always wanted to write, but were too afraid to tell. There is a lot of freedom in this theme, which makes it both liberating and terrifying. The editor wants to be moved, surprised and impressed – why don’t you take that as a challenge? Sinister. Play with it. Enjoy it. Scare us.

Submissions Guidelines: Fiction, poetry, cover and interior art

Deadline: Oct. 31, 2014

More info:

  1. 5×5 is an online literary journal that publishes poetry and prose of 500 words or less. We publish 5×5 twice a year (Winter & Summer). From Zeit, meaning “time,” and Geist,” meaning “spirit,” Zeitgeist, the theme for the Winter, 2015 issue of 5×5, means “spirit of the age” or “time-spirit.” We are looking for works of fiction, poetry and nonfiction that explore this concept from any number of angles. Maybe you want to take a stab at “defining” the zeitgeist of the present era or of a past era, or maybe you want to examine an idea or a figure of the present or past you see as representative or symbolic of the notion of zeitgeist, or maybe you’ve cultivated a voice or technique that in and of itself evokes “the spirit of the time,” whether past or present.

Submissions guidelines: Poetry, nonfiction, fiction

Deadline: Oct. 15, 2014

More info:

  1. BLACKBERRY: magazine is an online literary magazine featuring Black women writers and artists. Its goal is to expose readers to the diversity of the Black woman’s experience and strengthen the Black female voice in both the mainstream and independent markets. We hope to illuminate the exceptional work of a newer generation while reaching back to those whose words may have been ignored in the past. New work is shared weekly thus we read on a rolling basis. Simultaneous submissions are permitted. Please notify us immediately if the work has been accepted elsewhere. We prefer work that has not been previously published. BLACKBERRY: a magazine asks for non-exclusive electronic rights. With all submissions, please send a 50 word bio in your Submittable cover letter.

Submission Guidelines: Please submit 3-5 poems not exceeding 1,500 words, in one document. All flash fiction and flash nonfiction should be under 300 words. We love spoken word and audio-visual creations. All other forms: no more than 2 pieces not exceeding 4,000 words. Artwork must be 2-dimensional, in color or black-and-white, 300 dpi or higher. If applicable, include captions.

Deadline: Submissions accepted on a rolling basis

More Info:

10 Most Notable Black Superheroes in Comics, Film and TV


Static aka Virgil Hawkins was created by writers Dwayne McDuffie and Robert L. Washington III, and artist John Paul Leon in June 1993 for Milestone/DC Comics. He is one of the few Black characters created by Black creators.

Static is a teenager who is essentially an analog of Spider-Man. Static has the power to control electricity, electromagnetism, and he has the ability of flight with a metal saucer. He had his own TV show called Static Shock produced by Warner Bros. from 2000-2004.

The character has also appeared in Cartoon Network’s series Justice League in 2003 and Young Justice: Invasion in 2012.


Storm aka Ororo Munroe was created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum in 1975 for Marvel Comics. She first appeared in Giant Sized X-Men #1. Storm’s parents come from different societies. Her mother is a weather priestess from a Kenyan tribe and her father is a white American photojournalist.

Storm has the power to control all forms of weather. She can also fly and control electricity. She was married to Black Panther and was Queen Consort of the kingdom of Wakanda. She currently appears in her own ongoing series.

Most notably, actress Halle Berry has portrayed her in the X-Men film franchise.


Cyborg aka Victor Stone was created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez in October 1980. The superhero first appears in DC Comics Presents #26. During a freak accident in a lab, Vic Stone is critically injured. His parents, who happen to be scientists, used cybernetics to keep him alive. Cyborg has super strength, high IQ, cybernetic weapons, and tech know-how. From that moment on, he has been a member of Teen Titans.

Cyborg has been depicted on Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans (2003-2006) and current Teen Titans Go! 

 He has been portrayed by actor Shemar Moore in the animated movie, Justice League: War. Actor Lee Thompson Young played Cyborg in the television series, Smallville. Now Ray Fisher  will play him in the 2016-2017 upcoming films, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.

Luke Cage

Luke Cage aka Power Man was created by Archie Goodwin and John Romita Sr. in June 1972 for Marvel Comics. He first appears in Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1.  Luke Cage was wrongly convicted and imprisoned because of his involvement with gangs. He was altered in a failed prison experiment that gave him bulletproof skin and super strength. Cage is a self-taught hand-to-hand combatant. He is self-educated in the law and speaks several languages.


Spawn was created by Todd McFarlane in May 1992 for Image Comics. He first appeared in Spawn # 1. Spawn’s real name is Al Simmons. He sold his soul to the demon Melebolgia and became one of hell’s soldiers.

Now he rebels against hell and fights heaven to rejoin his wife and seek vengeance for his death. Most notably, Spawn has had a feature film, Spawn, in 1997 where he was portrayed by Michael Jai White.

TV Producers of ‘The Flash’ Consider Possibility of African-American Flash

Executive producers of the CW’s The Flash hinted that the show could introduce an African-American Flash some time in the future.

The show is only a few weeks away from its Oct. 7 series premiere, and while promotional trailers have already exposed the main character’s identity as a white male, producers say there may still be room for a Black Flash later down the line.

During CW’s panel Saturday at the PaleyFest, an annual celebration of diversity in programming and the creative processes behind television, one fan asked if the show would ever see a Black Flash.

According to executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, it’s a strong possibility.

“We made the Wests African-American so that we could ultimately head in that direction, absolutely,” Berlanti said. “That’s our hope.”

The “Wests” Berlanti referred to are the family of Wally West.

In the DC Comics, Wally West is the first Kid Flash and the third Flash.

While he was originally depicted as a red-headed Caucasian male, the producers made a conscious effort to switch things up a bit by casting an African-American family instead.

In the past, some comic book fans have been critical of characters’ races being changed without explanation.

Despite the controversy that usually arises over the topic, the producers are standing by their decision.

In fact, Kreisberg explained that in the New 52, Wally’s identity had not been revealed yet anyway so it was the perfect opportunity to reimagine the character.

“What’s very cool is in the New 52 they hadn’t reintroduced Wally [yet],” Kreisberg explained. “When they reintroduced Wally, they made him African-American. So now and forever, Kid Flash will be African-American.”

That New 52 is the massive relaunch by DC Comics that started roughly three years ago. Back in September of 2011, DC canceled many of its popular existing titles and released new first issues of the classic comics. In other words, it’s a sort of retelling of the classic comic book stories that allows creators to reimagine some of America’s favorite heroes.

With the answers about a Black Flash still being relatively vague, the possibilities of seeing the African-American superhero come to small screens all across the country are quite limitless.

Some fans speculate that Wally will make an appearance on the show without ever becoming a main character.

Others suspect that if the show manages to survive for several seasons, Wally would eventually take over as a main character.


5 Blatant Instances Of Racism in Video Games

Street Fighter

Although most people who grew up playing Street Fighter loved the franchise, it’s hard to overlook the blatant racial overtones of the characters. From Blanka, the savage from Brazil, to Dalsim, the yoga-practicing Indian, to Balrog, the only Black character in the game who’s portrayed as an evil greedy boxer.

Ethnic Cleansing

It’s hard to believe that a game this blatantly racist exists! Developed by Resistance Records, the game lets you play as a Klansman or skinhead in the quest to kill Latinos, Blacks and Jews.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex Human Revolution is a cyberpunk-themed, action role-playing video game developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix. Released in 2011, the game was critically acclaimed, except for one particular character, a Black female depicted as Letitia. As reported by

“Letitia’s a really bad part of a really good game. When lead character Adam Jensen encounters her in Detroit, she’s picking through the trash. It becomes clear that she’s an informant from Jensen’s police days.

“The purpose of talking to Letitia is to move the player forward and give some hints about Jensen’s backstory. Yet in doing so, you encounter something really ugly. Letitia embodies a strain of racist stereotype that renders black people as less than human, as the worst that society has to offer.”


The objective of Scribblenauts, as implied by its catchphrase “Write Anything, Solve Everything,” is to complete puzzles to collect “Starites,” helped by the player’s ability to summon any object (from a database of tens of thousands) by writing its name on the touchscreen.

However, users were able to uncover a particularly unnerving coincidence that when the term “Sambo” was typed, a watermelon appears on the screen and the character of color eats the entire thing and then falls asleep.

Resident Evil 5

The Resident Evil franchise is one of the most popular game franchises of all time, consisting of not just games but a string of movies as well. However, prior to the release of Resident Evil 5, a trailer featured the lead character (who was Caucasian) massacring numerous Black people in an African village, who had been infected with a disease that originated in Africa.

Although the game producers tried to defend their position by saying that other iterations of the game had taken place in other countries, the racial overtones in the trailer were too blatant and did cause serious backlash at the time.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Confirms Villainous Role as DC Comics’ Black Adam

Dwayne Johnson, better known by some as The Rock, finally confirmed that he will be taking on the role of Black Adam in the upcoming DC Comics film adaptation.

There are still many questions left unanswered, like when the Shazam adaptation will hit theaters and if Johnson will be donning a spandex bodysuit for the role, but at least fans finally know who will be the face of the famous antihero.

Johnson took to his own social media to confirm the role and express his excitement over the part.

“ ‘Kneel at his feet or get crushed by his boot.’ My honor to become… #BlackAdam #TheAntiHero #DCComics,” he tweeted Wednesday.

He also shared an image of the magic-wielding supervillain he will portray putting his arch nemesis, Shazam, in a frightening chokehold.

For many fans, the 42-year-old actor’s decision was no surprise.

Last month, he talked to The Associated Press about how much he loves antiheroes and even pointed out Black Adam as one of his favorite DC Comics characters.

During an appearance in Mexico City to promote his latest film Hercules, he explained that he will do everything in his power to satisfy the fans.

“I am putting my heart and soul and my bones into this role,” he said.

Toby Emmerich, president and chief operating officer of New Line, is not the least bit worried about Johnson’s ability to bring this character to life.

“We love Dwayne and have had nothing but success with him over the years,” Emmerich said. “When I look at Dwayne both off screen and on screen, he is such a larger-than-life character, and it just made perfect sense to me that we put him in a DC Comics movie. You look at these comic book characters and they have this certain swag and charisma that Dwayne carries with him wherever he is, so that’s why this always made sense.”

Warner Brothers has not announced an official release date for the film.

A Look Back in History: Jerry Lawson — The First Black Game Designer

Engineer Jerry Lawson was born Dec. 1, 1940, and died April 9, 2011. He introduced home video gaming by creating the Fairchild Channel F in August 1976, the first game system with interchangeable games.

As a child, he was inspired by the work of scientist and inventor George Washington Carver. Lawson started repairing televisions to make a little money before enrolling at Queens College in New York City. In the 1970s, Lawson joined the Silicon Valley’s Homebrew Computer Club as the only Black member at the time.

The Fairchild Channel F was the predecessor to the Atari 2600 and only lasted a year. This console was designed for one of the first coin-operated arcade games, Demolition Derby. The console was the first cartridge-based gaming system that came to market that featured a pause button and featured eight colors in a single game.

After leaving Fairchild in 1978-79, Lawson started his own video game development company called Videosoft. The company was started to create games and tech tools for the Atari 2600 but fell short of that goal. Videosoft ended up creating only one cartridge, Color Bar Generator, which was made to fix your television’s color and adjust the vertical and horizontal picture.

Lawson may very well be the first Black video game designer, producer and engineer in the industry.