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10 Innovative Inventions by African American Inventors That Changed the World

African American inventors have made significant contributions to society, developing innovative products that have made a difference in the world. From Marie Van Brittan Brown’s groundbreaking home security system to George Washington Carver’s numerous inventions in agriculture, African Americans have had a lasting impact on technology and culture. This article looks at 10 of the most innovative inventions by African American inventors that have changed our lives.

1. The First Automatic Elevator Doors

Alexander Miles: In 1887, Alexander Miles patented a mechanism that made automatic elevator doors safer and more efficient. His invention was designed with safety features in mind, including an automated system that open and closes elevator shaft doors and a brake system and alarm bell to prevent accidental falls. The elevator is a technology that we still use today and his invention was the first step in transforming how we access buildings vertically.

2. The Refrigerator

John Standard: Before John Standard’s invention, iceboxes were used to keep food cold and had to be filled with blocks of ice by hand. Standard’s refrigerator was an efficient and inexpensive way to keep food cold without the need for manual refilling. His invention revolutionized daily life and is now a staple in nearly every home around the world.

3. The Traffic Signal

Garrett Morgan: In 1923, Garrett Morgan invented the three light traffic light, the current traffic light we still use today. This iconic invention can be seen all across the world and makes it a safer place. Morgan eventually sold his patent to GE for a hefty $40,000.

4. The Super Soaker

Lonnie Johnson: In 1982, Lonnie Johnson invented the Super Soaker water gun. His invention quickly grew into one of the most popular toys in history and has become a summertime staple for children around the world.

5. The Folding Ironing Board

Sarah Boone: In 1892, Sarah Boone patented a folding ironing board that made it easier to store and transport. Her improved ironing board revolutionized the way people did laundry, making it much more convenient for those who had limited storage space.

6. The Automatic Gear Shift

Richard Spikes: In 1932, Richard Spikes invented the first automatic gear shift for cars. His invention allowed drivers to switch gears without having to use a manual hand lever, making driving much easier and more convenient.

7. The Gas Mask

Garret Morgan: An earlier invention by Garrett Morgan in 1914, he patented an early version of the gas mask that revolutionized how soldiers in World War I protected themselves from hazardous gases and smoke. His invention is still used by firefighters, industrial workers and others who are exposed to dangerous chemicals or fumes.

8. The Portable Electric Hair Straightener

Madame C. J. Walker: In 1905, Madame C. J. Walker invented the first portable electric hair straightener that revolutionized the way African American women styled their hair. Her invention was a game changer and is still used today by millions of people around the world.

9. The Double-Action Revolver

Elijah McCoy: In 1872, Elijah McCoy patented the double-action revolver, which allowed users to fire multiple shots without having to manually reload each time. His invention revolutionized firearm technology and helped make handguns safer and more reliable.

10. The World’s First Human-Programmable Computer Language

Katherine Johnson: In 1952, Katherine Johnson developed the world’s first human-programmable computer language, which was used to calculate trajectories for NASA missions. Her invention revolutionized how space travel is conducted and helped pave the way for future discoveries in the field.


These are just a few of the incredible inventions by African American inventors that have changed the world for the better. These individuals have made significant contributions to society and their stories should be celebrated and remembered for generations to come.