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Patch Contest: Find Black Inventions and Win Movie Tickets

There are plenty of things we use in everyday life that were invented by African Americans. For Black History Month, find the most black inventions and win tickets to see "Red Tails."

With upon us, it wouldn't be right if we just let it come and pass without doing something to acknowledge all the contributions African Americans made to this country.

So what could be better than just learning a little black history? Doing a Black History Month contest, of course.

San Bruno Patch is launching a contest to find out who knows the most black history in town. More specifically, we're looking to see who knows the most about black inventions.

You might be surprised to find out that many of our modern conveniences and everyday necessities were first created by black inventors. For example, who invented the stoplight? A black inventor. Who discovered more than 300 purposes for the peanut? An African American.

Here's how the contest works. Today through Feb. 15, you can participate in the contest by uploading photos of black inventions we use in everyday life to this article and naming the inventor (we'll give you the stoplight and peanut if you can name the black inventors).

The person who has uploaded the most black inventions by Feb. 15 will win two tickets to see "Red Tails," the George Lucas-produced film about the Tuskegee Airmen—the first black fighter pilots—at Century at Tanforan.

There is no age limit for this contest. However, you must be a San Bruno Patch user to participate. The winner will be announced on Feb. 17.

So whip out those cameras, hit the books and see how many black inventions you can find.

If you have any questions, post them in the comments and we’ll answer them here. Click here for full .

Heidi Beck February 06, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Garrett Morgan invented the stoplight, but God invented the peanut. ;-) George Washington Carver developed all kinds of peanut products.
Martin Ricard (Editor) February 06, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Good answers so far. Let's keep this going.
Bill Baker February 06, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Imhotep: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imhotep "Imhotep is credited with being the founder of medicine and with being the author of a medical treatise remarkable for being devoid of magical thinking; the so-called Edwin Smith papyrus containing anatomical observations, ailments, and cures." Imhotep's achievements qualify as "Black Inventions".
Heidi Beck February 06, 2012 at 09:55 PM
BTW, Garrett Morgan also invented the gas mask -- guess I should try to find a photo on the web to upload.
Martin Ricard (Editor) February 06, 2012 at 10:33 PM
That is correct. And thanks for posting the photo.
Heidi Beck February 06, 2012 at 11:08 PM
How do I change the photo credit? It shouldn't be me! (And now I can't remember where I found the photo to give it proper credit.) Can you subsitute something that Patch has rights to or we're certain is not under copyright?
Martin Ricard (Editor) February 06, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Heidi, for the purposes of this contest, having your credit on the photo isn't a problem (for now). If you want to change the photo credit, just let me know where you got the photo from (if you can remember) and I'll swap it out.
Maria Pia February 07, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Elijah McCoy (1843–1929) invented an oil-dripping cup for trains. He was issued more than 57 patents for his inventions during his lifetime. Fast Fact: Other inventors tried to copy McCoy's oil-dripping cup. But none of the other cups worked as well as his, so customers started asking for "the real McCoy." That's where the expression comes from.
Heidi Beck February 07, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Hey, Maria, that's a good one -- great to know about the real McCoy! And now let's add to our list of names someone local, someone contemporary: Silicon Valley's own, the late Dr. Frank S. Greene. He was a pioneering engineer in the Valley, and is recognized in the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame with fellow luminaries like Robert Noyce, William Hewlett and David Packard. A memory chip and system designer, Greene held the patent for the integrated circuit that made Fairchild a semiconductor leader in the late 1960s. He later became an entrepreneur and founded a couple of technology companies and a VC firm. He "gave back" to a lot of educational programs, particularly for minority youth and women, to encourage them to go into STEM fields (science, tech, math).
Heidi Beck February 07, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Left out "engineering" in STEM. How can one edit one's posts, by the way, when you notice you've made a mistake?
Martin Ricard (Editor) February 07, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Heidi, that's a really good one. I never knew about Frank S. Greene. Thanks for the information. And you can't edit comments. Just post another like you did if you made a mistake. Or you can delete it and repost.
Martin Ricard (Editor) February 07, 2012 at 04:08 AM
I always appreciated the story about Elijah McCoy. Thanks for posting.
Heidi Beck February 07, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Just thought of a couple of names: Madam Walker, who created a line of hair care products that were so phenomenally successful she was the first African American millionaire, or maybe if was first female African American millionaire. Maybe it's not quite right to call her an inventer, but she was important as an entrepreneur/businesswoman. And Benjamin Banneker -- the post office honored him with a stamp a few years ago -- can't remember exactly what he invented, but I recall he did important work in astronomy, celestial navigation, surveying and clockmaking, so I'm sure he invented or patented something!
Heidi Beck February 07, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Lonnie Johnson -- inventor of the SuperSoaker!
Heidi Beck February 07, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Willis Johnson -- inventor of the egg-beater!
Heidi Beck February 07, 2012 at 05:16 AM
Charles Drew, who has a lot of medical clinics named after him. He made discoveries that are important to blood banks.
Heidi Beck February 07, 2012 at 05:19 AM
I know, I should add photos ...
Maria Pia February 11, 2012 at 05:39 AM
In 1898, Ms. Lyda D. Newman patented the first hairbrush with synthetic bristles.
Maria Pia February 15, 2012 at 07:48 PM
does Dr. Mark E. Dean count? He holds three of the nine patents on the computer that all personal computers are based on. Along with Dennis Moeller, Dean created the ISA systems bus that allows external devices like modems and printers to be connected to your PC. Then, in 1999, he led the IBM team that built a gigahertz (1,000 mhz) chip capable of doing a billion calculations per second. Among his numerous awards is his induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. http://www.almaden.ibm.com/institute/bio/2007/index.shtml?mdean
Martin Ricard (Editor) February 15, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Yes. Dr. Dean counts. As you stated, he is credited with being instrumental in the invention of the personal computer (more commonly known as the PC).
Maria Pia February 16, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Emmit McHenry created a complex computer code whereby ordinary people can now surf the web or have e-mails without having to study computer science. He created what we know today simply as .com On Dec. 31 1992, Network Solutions got the contract that would make the company a legacy. After the government review several company proposals, The National Science Foundation Department selected Network Solution as manager of domain names registration service for the Internet. http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/biography.asp?bioindex=659&category=BusinessMakers&occupation=Telecommunications%20Entrepreneur&name=Emmit%20J.%20McHenry
Maria Pia February 16, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Alexander Miles of Duluth, Minnesota patented an electric elevator (U.S. pat#371,207) on October 11, 1887 (see patent below). Alexander Miles did not invent the first elevator, however, his design was very important. Alexander Miles improved the method of the opening and closing of elevator doors; and he improved the closing of the opening to the elevator shaft when an elevator was not on that floor. Alexander Miles created an automatic mechanism that closed access to the shaft. At that time elevator patrons or operators were often required to manually shut a door to cutoff access to the elevator shaft. People would forget to close the shaft door and as a result there were accidents with people falling down the elevator shafts
Maria Pia February 16, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Lewis Howard Latimer (1843-1928) is considered one of the 10 most important Black inventors of all time not only for the sheer number of inventions created and patents secured but also for the magnitude of importance for his most famous discovery. A pioneer in the development of the electric light bulb, Lewis was the only Black member of Thomas A. Edison's research team of noted scientists. While Edison invented the incandescent bulb, it was Latimer, a member of the Edison Pioneers, and former assistant to telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, who developed and patented the process for manufacturing the carbon filaments.
Maria Pia February 16, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Richard Spikes created many inventions to advance the automobile industry. In 1962 while working on his last invention, the automatic safety brake, he began to go blind. He was able to successfully finish the device by first creating a drafting machine for blind designers. The automatic safety brake is standard on all school buses today. Over the course of his lifetime, Spikes developed the following inventions or innovations: railroad semaphore (1906) automatic car washer (1913) automobile directional signals (1913) beer keg tap (1910) self-locking rack for billiard cues (1910) continuous contact trolley pole (1919) combination milk bottle opener and cover (1926) method and apparatus for obtaining average samples and temperature of tank liquids (1931) automatic gear shift (1932) transmission and shifting thereof (1933) automatic shoe shine chair (1939) multiple barrel machine gun (1940) horizontally swinging barber chair (1950) automatic safety brake (1962) Spikes inventions were welcome to major companies. His beer keg tap was purchased by Milwaukee Brewing Company and the automobile directional signals which were first introduced in the Pierce Arrow, soon became standard in all automobiles. For his innovative designs of transmission and gear-shifting devices, Spikes received over $100,000.00 - an enormous sum for a Black man in the 1930s.
Maria Pia February 16, 2012 at 04:52 AM
Sarah Boone patented a device to help neatly iron clothing. This was the predecessor to the modern ironing board. It was made of a narrow wooden board, with collapsible legs and a padded cover. Before Sarah's inventions, people simply used a table or were creative by lying a plank of wood across two chairs or small tables. U.S. Patent #473,653 was granted to her on April 26, 1892. She lived near New Haven, Connecticut at the time. Sarah Boone's ironing board was designed to be effective in ironing the sleeves and bodies of ladies' garments.
Maria Pia February 16, 2012 at 05:25 AM
Henry Brown patented a "receptacle for storing and preserving papers on November 2, 1886" This was a fire and accident safe container made of forged metal, which could be sealed with a lock and key. It developed into what is now known as the bank safety deposit box

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