The Top Ten Most Famous Black Inventors and What They Did

A considerable amount of the world's most influential inventors have black roots - a fact which is often overlooked. We take a look at the top ten most famous black inventors of all time, studying the countless contributions they have made to science, industry and human life.


1. Elijah McCoy (1843-1929)

Often regarded as the (or at least one of) most famous black inventors ever, McCoy was credited for over 50 inventions during his productive career. The most well known of these is a cup that feeds lubricating oil onto moving parts of steam engines - vital in avoiding sticking to the track. His success in the lubrication and railroad industry led to the development of the saying 'the real McCoy'.


2. Granville T. Woods (1856-1910)

Often referred to as the 'Black Edison', Woods invented numerous contraptions for use in the railroad business, making him one of the most globally recognized black inventors. His most well-known creation was the Multiplex Telegraph: a communication device that connects trains with nearby stations.


3. Lewis Latimer (1848-1928)

Co-working with science greats Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison in their laboratories, Latimer's greatest invention was the carbon filament. A vital component of the light bulb, this piece of metal features in many modern day filament lamps.


4. George Washington Carver (1860-1943)

Washington was the driving force behind the earliest known edition of instant coffee - a substance which is today a store cupboard essential. He developed 400 plant products in total, and is widely credited as the inventor of peanut butter.


5. Garrett Morgan (1877-1963)

Those who survived either of the World Wars thanks to a gas mask will probably thank Morgan - the creator of one of the world's first effective gas masks. He also invented the first real traffic signal, for which he received a patent in 1923, courtesy of the US Government.

6. Madam C. J. Walker (1867-1919)

Her contributions to the hairdressing industry will never be forgotten, especially her invention of a hair-growing lotion. This product, as well as the Walker System' - a nationally-operating corporation dedicated to providing employment opportunities for black women - made her the first African-American female millionaire.

7. Otis Boykin (1920-1982)

The inventor of 28 useful electronic devices, Boykin's famed for the development of IBM computers, pacemakers (used by medical staff to correct faulty heartbeats), and an electronic resistor used in controlled missiles and other devices. He's the cream of the crop when it comes to technically-focused black inventors, you could say.

8. Dr. Patricia E. Bath (1949-Present)

One of only two inventors to make this list that is still alive today, Dr. Bath holds the record as the first African-American doctor to be given a patent for a device with medical intentions. The laser created by Bath can cure cataracts, and her other inventions have vastly improved the effectiveness of some forms of eye surgery.

9. Charles R. Drew (1904-1950)

Despite his premature death in a car collision, Dr. C. Drew managed to achieve something great for the medical community, and indeed, wider society, during his lifetime. He was the major influence behind the creation of the 'blood bank' and the

10. Lonnie G. Johnson (1949-Present)

Inventor of the famous watergun, the Supersoaker, Johnson is an Aerospace Engineer for NASA, the American Space Agency. Alongside one of the best-known toys of modern times, Lonnie has invented various systems for implementation in NASA rockets.