BLACK VOICES

Here Are A Few Things You Probably Didn't Know Were Invented By Black People

We have black pioneers to thank for these useful inventions.

Did you know that the three-signal traffic light was created by a black inventor?

From contributions to the worlds of science, style, music and more, it’s safe to say that our day-to-day lives would be very different without African American trailblazers. As we round out Black History Month, take a look back at just a few of the notable achievements of black Americans.  

  • Three-Signal Traffic Light
    After he saw a carriage crash in a Cleveland intersection, Garrett Morgan&nbsp;<a href="http://www.biography.com/people/garre
    Hinterhaus Productions via Getty Images
    After he saw a carriage crash in a Cleveland intersection, Garrett Morgan created a version of the modern three-way traffic signal in 1923. He was also the first black man to own a car in his city.
  • Closed Circuit TV
    Marie Van Brittan Brown <a href="http://www.aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/inventor-marie-van-brittan-brown-born" target
    Dan Kitwood via Getty Images
    Marie Van Brittan Brown created a device in 1966 that would be the precursor to home surveillance as we know it. She connected a motorized security camera to a monitor, where one could view images from the camera.
  • Mailbox
    In 1891, Philip Downing <a href="http://blackinventor.com/philip-downing/" target="_blank">invented the "street letter box,"<
    David Cooper via Getty Images
    In 1891, Philip Downing invented the "street letter box," which became the predecessor to the metal letter-drop mailboxes we use today.
  • Laser Cataract Surgery
    Howard University alum Patricia Bath is <a href="https://www.nlm.nih.gov/changingthefaceofmedicine/physicians/biography_26.ht
    Photofusion via Getty Image
    Howard University alum Patricia Bath is responsible for creating the laserphaco probe, a device used for laser cataract surgery. With the help of the instrument, she was able to recover the sight of several individuals who had been blind for over 30 years.
  • Touch-Tone Phone
    Shirley Ann Jackson made several telecommunications breakthroughs while employed with Bell Laboratories. Her <a href="http://
    moodboard via Getty Images
    Shirley Ann Jackson made several telecommunications breakthroughs while employed with Bell Laboratories. Her scientific discoveries led to the touch-tone phone, caller I.D. and call waiting. Jackson was also the first black woman to graduate with a Ph.D. from M.I.T.
  • Super Soaker
    '90s kids have Lonnie Johnson to thank for their super soaked summer water gun battles. The former NASA engineer <a href="htt
    JAY DIRECTO via Getty Images
    '90s kids have Lonnie Johnson to thank for their super soaked summer water gun battles. The former NASA engineer created the toy in his spare time and after several rebranding attempts, his Super Soaker, known for its high-powered water blasting function, hit $200 million in sales in 1991.
  • 3-D Special Effects
    Computer graphics designer Marc Hannah co-founded Silicon Graphics, Inc. His <a href="http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biograp
    Universal Pictures via Getty Images
    Computer graphics designer Marc Hannah co-founded Silicon Graphics, Inc. His computer programs were instrumental in the creation of special effects for films like "Jurassic Park," "Aladdin," "Beauty and the Beast" and more.
  • The Blood Bank
    African American physician Charles Drew <a href="http://www.biography.com/people/charles-drew-9279094#synopsis" target="_blan
    AFP via Getty Images
    African American physician Charles Drew developed a way to process and preserve blood plasm, which lasts much longer than actual blood. His discovery was crucial to creating blood banks and assisting in the war effort during World War II. He was working on a blood bank for U.S. military personnel when he grew unhappy with the military's request to segregate the blood and left his position.
  • Refrigerated Trucks
    Before Frederick McKinley Jones invented his portable cooling unit, perishable items were transported in <a href="http://www.
    Bloomberg via Getty Images
    Before Frederick McKinley Jones invented his portable cooling unit, perishable items were transported in trucks filled with ice.  He revolutionized the industry by creating a cooling system that could be mounted on the roof of the vehicle and would keep food fresh during long journeys.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly credited George Crum with inventing the potato chip; he was not the first, however, to prepare the snack. Please note the video above is also incorrect.

 
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