Tag Archives: black inventors

Day 28 Benjamin Banneker – 28 days of Black History in Technology

Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker was born in 1731, it’s said he was born to a colonial American who was an indentured servant at one time but by the time Banneker was born he was born free, but with all things when it comes to African American’s it’s hard to trace the true origins of some people’s history.

Banneker made astronomical calculations that predicted solar and lunar eclipses.  As he understood the need for this kind of information he created an almanac ephemeris from 1792, to 1797.

Banneker's Almanac

Banneker also made a clock, as I understand it he took apart a clock that was given to him, and then created a clock made of wood that worked and chimed at the hour mark.

Later Banneker was part of a survey team that in late February 1792 was dismissed, they had failed to have have the plans published the leader Pierre Charles L’Enfant was dismissed.  The story goes that L’Enfant left with the plans he had completed, thus leaving the project up in the air, and the possibility of starting the project over again from start.

Banneker was able to draw from memory and provide the plans that were later used for the construction of the federal capital city.

So far in my research I have no knowledge that Banneker went on to college or even how far he completed high school or for that matter grade school.  We do all know this, his almanac was truly remarkable and he is a great African American Inventor.


Day 24 Alexander Miles – 28 days of Black History in Technology

Alexander Miles made improvements to the Electric Elevator patent #371,207 improved the method of the opening and closing of elevator doors.  This was very important because before his invention patrons of the elevator had to close the door manually.  Sometimes this created a situation with bad results because people would not always shut the door, causing accidents with people falling down the elevator shaft.

Here is a copy of the patent information ELEVATOR PDF


Day 23 William B. Purvis – 28 days of Black History in Technology

William B. Purvis (Date of birth unknown) he was an inventor in the late 1800’s.  He was a African American inventor who decided to make a better mouse trap.  Mr. Purvis turned reality upside down when he invented what is known as the “Fountain Pen”.

Fountain Pen Patent# 419,065

I’m guessing through real ups and downs he considered the question ” Why do I always have to carry a bottle of ink with me, why can’t my writing device have ink inside of it?” Honestly the question was probably more complex but I’m just giving you a little story here..lol

On January 7, 1890 W.B. Purvis as he was also known received a patent (419,065) for the fountain pen.  Purvis said of his invention “the object of my invention is to provide a simple, durable, and inexpensive construction of a fountain pen adapted to general use and which may be carried in the pocket.”

His invention is still used today, but due to the fact that we hardly learned anything about this African American Inventor shows me why I am writing about these great individuals this month.

I came across a video created by Mt Gilead Missionary Baptist Church promoting black history education month, enjoy.


Fountain Pen Patent PDF


Day 22 William A. Lavalette – 28 days of Black History in Technology

Printing Press

William A. Lavalette an African-America was awarded patent number 208,208 in September 17, 1878 for improvements to the printing press.

It was very hard to find any information about William Lavalette, it was even harder to but, I was able to find the actual drawing of these new improvements after much searching.

Just know that as you read a book, newspaper, magazine or other printed materials, Mr. Lavelette probably has part of his lifes work in your hands.


Day 21 Henry T. Sampson, Jr. – 28 days of Black History in Technology

Henry T. Sampson, Jr.

Henry Thomas Sampson, Jr. was born in 1934, he attended Morehouse College, but graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Purdue University, later he rececied a MS, and PhD.

He is the first African American to earn a Ph.D in Nuclear Engineering in the United States.

Sampson was employed as a research chemical engineer at the U.S. Naval Weapons Center in the area of high energy solid propellants and case bonding materials for solid rocket motors.

His patents included a binder system for propellants and explosives and a case bonding system for case composite propellants.  Pretty much this all just means his inventions were related to solid rocket motors.