From space travels to closing the opportunity gap for women and girls in technology, the contributions made by Black women and men in the tech community, both past and present, are profound.
In fact, it would be nearly impossible to get through our modern daily work routine without the technology invented by the following visionaries, and for that, we thank you.
That online meeting you sat through today (in your pajamas)? You can thank Marian Croak for that. Croak is best known for developing Voice Over Internet Protocols (VoIP) technology. Additionally, she furthered technology in areas such as voice and text messaging on cell phones, as well as the technology that allows people to send text-based donations to charity.
James Edward West
“You’re on mute!” Sound familiar? Thanks to the ingenuity of James Edward West, we have the ability to “un-mute” and carry on a conversation, online or on your phone. A staggering 90% of microphones used today are based on his invention.
Chances are, if you’ve ever stuck a disk drive into a computer or printed from a computer or even used a computer with a color screen, you have computer scientist and engineer, Mark Dean, to thank for that. Dean’s research at IBM helped change the accessibility and power of the personal computer.
The next time you’re in a group chat and want to express how you’re feeling, drop a GIF, and thank Lisa Gelobter for the opportunity to get animated. Gelobter is a computer scientist, entrepreneur, and technology executive who worked on several pioneering internet technologies, including the animation used to create GIFs.
Search and Rescue
Looking for an article on AI (or the words to that earworm you’ve got stuck in your head?) Start searching and thank Alan Emtage. In 1989, Emtage conceived of and implemented Archie, the world’s first Internet search engine. In doing so, he pioneered many of the techniques used by public search engines today.
You’re on the Fastest Route
Dr. Gladys West
When it’s time to head home or to the office, thank Dr. Gladys West, a mathematician and one of the “Hidden Figures” who was lesser known for her contributions to inventing GPS. West began working in the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory in 1956 where she programmed an IBM 7030 “Stretch” computer that delivered refined calculations for an “extremely accurate geodetic Earth model, a geoid, optimized” for what would eventually become known across the world as the Global Positioning System (GPS) orbit.
All Work and No Play …
You don’t have to be a hard-core gamer to appreciate Jerry Lawson, an engineer and game designer. He helped develop Fairchild Channel F, the first cartridge-based video game console released for commercial sale. And in helping create the Fairchild Channel F, Lawson helped revolutionize the entire gaming industry. He also introduced, for the first time, the ‘pause’ mechanism in the video game world and the ability to use interchangeable cartridges.
We’d love to hear which Black innovators you’d like to thank for their life-altering inventions.