Today in History: Otis Boykin, 20th Century Inventor of 21st Century Tech

Inventor Otis Boykin was born Aug. 29, 1920 in Dallas, Texas and died March 13, 1982. His most notable invention was an improved electrical resistor used in computers, radios, and various electronic devices.

On June 16, 1959, Boykin received a patent for a wire precision resistor. A resistor slows down the electrical current to keep the device functioning and to prevent too much electricity from passing through it. This particular resistor would be used in radios and televisions.

In 1964, Boykin moved to Paris. While there, he created electrical resistance components used in computers and resistors in guided missile systems. He also invented the chemical air filter and a burglarproof cash register.

He is also know for inventing a control unit for the pacemaker. The unit created electrical impulses to stimulate the heart and manage a steady heartbeat.

Overall, Boykin earned 11 patents and invented 28 different electronic devices.

20 Black Inventions Over The Last 100 Years You May Not Know


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.


Henry Brown

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.