Famous Black Inventors

Famous Black Inventors

A Rich Heritage Gives Way to Modern Ingenuity

Look for information about African-American inventors and you'll quickly find that American innovation is rich with the contributions of famous black inventors like Elijah McCoy, Lewis Howard Latimer, George Washington Carver and Madame C.J. Walker (Sarah Breedlove).

In fact, many modern conveniences and necessities are directly related to, or derivative of, the inventions of black inventors: blood banks, the refrigerator, the electric trolley, the dust pan, comb, mop, brush, clothes dryer, refrigerator, lawn mower, traffic signals, the pen and the pencil sharpener.

But what of the present-day counterparts to these historical figures? Did African-Americans just up and stop inventing? The answer, conclusively, is no.

From colonial times through today, Americans of African and Caribbean descent have contributed to the advancement of medicine, physics, industrialization and plain old fun. Famous Black Inventors is pleased to present an introduction to just a few of the many modern-day African-American inventors, as well as biographies of their predecessors throughout American history. Select an inventor from the list on the left to read more about the inventions he or she created.


Dr. Mark Dean
Computer Inventions
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Dr. James West
Electret Microphone
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As a child, Mark Dean excelled in math. In elementary school, he took advanced level math courses and, in high school, Dean even built his own computer, radio, and amplifier. Dean continued his interests and went on to obtain a bachelor’s...

Read More: Dr. Mark Dean >>
Ninety percent of microphones used today are based on the ingenuity of James Edward West, an African-American inventor born in 1931 in Prince Edwards County, VA. If you've ever talked on the telephone, you've probably used his invention...

Read more: Dr. James E. West >>
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