Q:

Who is O. Dorsey?

A:

Quick Answer

Osbourn Dorsey was an African-American man who invented the doorknob and doorstop in December of 1878. He successfully obtained a patent for his work in the same year. Because of the time in which he lived and the fact that he was African-American, very little is known about his life. Historians still wonder if the man was born free or if he was a freed slave.

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Full Answer

Historians do not know where Dorsey lived or what other inventions he created, if any. Historians do not even know what Dorsey did for a living. Most of the information about Dorsey and his inventions comes from his patent application.

Before Dorsey’s invention people closed and secured doors in a variety of ways. Many people used some type of latch to keep doors closed, whereas others used leather straps as handles. Even after the doorknob was invented it took years for people to embrace them fully and begin installing them on the doors in their homes.

Other important African-American inventors include Alexander Miles, who invented the elevator a few years before Dorsey invented the doorknob. In 1923, Garrett Morgan invented the traffic light. In 1960, inventor extraordinaire Fredrick M. Jones invented the thermostat control.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What makes a doorknob turn?

    A:

    What makes a doorknob turn is its spindle and cylinder, which turn clockwise or anticlockwise when the doorknob is rotated and engage the latch. The spindle carries the action of rotating the doorknob into the cylinder. The movement of the cylinder forces the attached bolt installed in the internal face of the door to slide in or out of the latch of the door's frame. This allows the door to open or shut.

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  • Q:

    How do I remove a doorknob without screws?

    A:

    When you do not see any screws on the doorknob, press a flat screwdriver into the thin slot on its shank, and pull the knob to remove it. Use the screwdriver to pry the metal trim from lockset, and access the hidden screws holding it in place.

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  • Q:

    How is a doorknob a wheel and axle?

    A:

    A doorknob is considered a wheel and axle because it has a wheel portion, the knob, and an axle, the rod in the door, that turn on the same axis. In instances such as a doorknob, a wheel and axle can also be considered a type of lever.

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  • Q:

    What are some tips for repairing door locks at home?

    A:

    Some tips for repairing door locks at home include making sure the door's latch bolt lines up with the doorjamb's strike plate, tightening the doorknob by loosening the setscrew on the knob’s shank and turning the loose knob clockwise, and using a bottle of lock de-icer to lubricate slow-working locks. Fortunately, these actions can all be performed fairly easily without professional help.

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