Black Inventor - blackinventor.com

Albert Richardson


Inventor of the Butter Churn and a casket lowering device.

Albert Richardson was one of those rare inventors who not only created numerous devices, but created devices that were completely unrelated to one another.

Until 1891 anyone wanting to make butter would have to do so by hand in a bowl. On February 17, 1891 Richardson patented the butter churn. The device consisted of a large wooden cylinder container with a plunger-like handle which moved up and down. In doing so, the movement caused oily parts of cream or milk to become separated from the more watery parts. This allowed for an easy way to make butter and forever changed the food industry.

In 1894, Richardson saw a problem with the way the bodies of dead people were buried. It was common at that time to simply bury bodies in small, shallow graves or to try to lower their caskets with ropes into a deeper hole. Unfortunately, this required several people to work in unison to ensure that the casket was lowered evenly. Failure to do so could cause the casket to slip out of one of the ropes and to be damaged from hitting the ground. On November 13, 1894, Richardson patented the casket lowering device which consisted of a series of pulleys and ropes or cloths which ensured uniformity in the lowering process. This invention was very significant at that time and is used in all cemeteries today.

In addition to these devices, Richardson patented a hame fastener in 1882, an insect destroyer in February of 1899 and an improvement in the design of the bottle in December of 1899.

Black Inventor - blackinventor.com

Benjamin Bradley

Benjamin Bradley was born around 1830 as a slave in Maryland. He was able to read and write, although at the time it was illegal for a slave to do so (he likely learned from the Master’s children). He was put to work in a printing office and at the age of 16 began working with scrap he found, modeling it into a small ship. Eventually, with an intuitiveness that seemed far beyond him, he improved on his creation until he had built a working steam engine, made from a piece of a gun-barrel, pewter, pieces of round steel and some nearby junk. Those around him were so astounded by his high level of intelligence that he was placed in a new job, this time at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

In his new position he served as a classroom assistant in the science department. He helped to set up and conduct experiments, working with chemical gases. He was very good at his work, impressing the professors with his understanding of the subject matter and also with his preparedness in readying the experiments. In addition to the praise he received, he also received a salary, most of which went to his Master, but some of which (about $5.00 per month) he was able to keep.

Despite enjoying his job with the Naval Academy, Bradley had not forgotten his steam engine creation. He used the money he had been able to save from his job as well as the proceeds of the sale of his original engine (to a Naval Academy student) to build a larger model. Eventually he was able to finish an engine large enough to drive the first steam-powered warship at 16 knots. At the time, because he was a slave, he was unable to secure a patent for his engine. His master did, however, allow him to sell the engine and he used that money to purchase his freedom.

Black Inventor - blackinventor.com

Benjamin Thornton

In 1935, Benjamin Thornton created a device that could be attached to a telephone and could be set to record a voice message from a caller. By utilizing a clock attachment, the machine could also forward the messages as well as keep track of the time they were made.

This device was the predecessor of today’s answering machine.

Black Inventor - blackinventor.com

Charles Brooks

Charles C.B. Brooks

Charles Brooks designed the street sweeper and patented it on March 17, 1896. Prior to his invention, streets were cleaned manually by workers picking up trash by hand or sweeping it with brooms. Brooks’ invention was made of a truck with a series of broom-like brushes attached which pushed trashed and debris off onto the side of the road.

The street sweeper initially faced a lot of resentment from workers who felt they could do a better job. Eventually, as cities grew bigger and more and more litter accumulated, the street sweeper became indispensable.

 

 

Black Inventor - blackinventor.com

Daniel McCree

Daniel McCree recognized the safety benefits enjoyed by hotels, apartment buildings and office buildings and decided to extend that safety to homeowners. Basing his model on fire escapes being used by bigger buildings, McCree created a portable version made of wood that could be attached to the windowsill of a home, enabling people within to escape from second and third story levels during a fire.

McCree patented the portable fire escape on November 11, 1890 and it is the basis for similar models used today.

 

Black Inventor - blackinventor.com

David Fisher

David Fisher responded to the needs of furniture workers by trying to make their work easier, safer and more productive. He created and patented two devices which eased the burden of these workers and improved their efforts.

His first invention was aimed at freeing up time for carpenters and furniture makers. At the time, when furniture was being put together, a worker was forced to work in slow steps, pausing at various times to combine pieces of wood together in order to allow glue to bind them. Fisher solved this delay by developing the joiner’s clamp, which he patented on April 20, 1875. The joiner’s clamp consisted of two pieces of wood connected by two screws. When tightened, the screws pushed the pieces of wood together. He used this device to hold together furniture parts as they were glued, thus freeing the worker to continuing assembling the item. By using applied, balanced pressure, the joiner’s clamp caused the wood to bind together, faster and stronger than was previously possible.

Another dilemma facing workers in the furniture industry was the laborious task of moving heavy pieces of furniture. In addition to having to concern themselves with their own physical safety, they also had to worry about dropping the furniture and damaging other items in the room by bumping into them. On March 14, 1876, Fisher patented the furniture caster. This device was a free turning wheel that could (when combined with a few others) allow heavy items to move around a room on rollers, safely and efficiently. This enabled one person to move large pieces of furniture, allowing other workers to tend to other items. This device is now used in almost every industry a well as in most homes.