Prominent African-American inventors include Alexander Miles, Mark Dean, George Washington Carver, Lewis Latimer and Lonnie G. Johnson. Patricia Bath, C.J. Walker and Jan Ernst Matzelinger were talented female African-American inventors.
Alexander Miles invented safer elevator doors. George Washington Carver invented hundreds of derivatives of peanuts and peanut oil, although many have been lost. In 1881, Lewis Latimer patented a new carbon filament for incandescent light bulbs, helping to make electric lights more practical and affordable for ordinary households. Latimer also worked with famous inventors Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison.
Madam C.J. Walker invented hair care products and became one of the first self-made female millionaires in U.S. history. Walker traveled extensively promoting her products and spreading hair care tips for African-American women. An active philanthropist, Walker employed thousands of women as salespeople.
Dr. Patricia Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe in 1981. This surgical tool allowed surgeons to fix cataracts, eye problems that can cause blindness. Bath's invention provided patients with less risk and was more precise than earlier devices.
Lonnie G. Johnson worked for NASA on high-profile projects like the Galileo mission to Jupiter. He later invented the Super Soaker and filed over 100 patents. Working for IBM, Mark Dean co-developed devices the color PC monitor and the 1-gigahertz computer processor chip.