Have you ever considered the origins of the technology that you use when you’re out for a drive in your ride? Celebrating black history month gives us a chance to look back on the contributions to engineering and invention that African American inventors have provided, making it possible to enjoy the privilege and luxury of controlling your own automobile.
The Lightbulb: Without this, it would be impossible to drive at night, let other drivers know when you’re braking or going in reverse, signify what sort of turns you’re about to make, or find your cellphone and keys once you’ve parked. The lightbulb is a very significant element in your driving experience, and you might be surprised to know that it’s use was made possible by the contributions of a black man.
Born to slave parents in Massachussetts in 1948, Lewis Latimer excelled in school. After the Civil War, in which he served in the Navy, Latimer worked in a patent law firm where he learned mechanical drawing.
As a draftsman, Latimer worked with Alexander Graham Bell’s patent for the telephone. He went on to work with another legendary figure in engineering, Thomas Edison. Edison had invited Latimer to become part of his elite research team, “Edison’s Pioneers”, where as the only African American in the group, Latimer came up with the idea of the carbon filament, making the widespread use of light possible amongst towns, business and homes.
The Traffic Signal: It’s pretty clear that without the regulation of traffic signals, modern driving life as we know it would not exist. Red lights and green lights make traffic flow, prevent accidents, and made it possible to plan modern routes and city streets. Read the full story at Toyota Green Initiative.