Otis F. Boykin was born on August 29, 1920 in Dallas, Texas. After graduating high school, he attended Fisk College in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated in 1941 and took a job as a laboratory assistant with the Majestic Radio and TV Corporation in Chicago, Illinois. He undertook various tasks but excelled at testing automatic aircraft controls, ultimately serving as a supervisor. Three years laster he left Majestic and took a position as a research engineer with the P.J. Nilsen Reseach Laboratories. Soon thereafter, he decided to try to develop a business of his own a founded Boykin-Fruth, Incorporated. At the same time, he decided to continue his education, pursuing graduate studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois. He attended classes in 1946 and 1947 but was forced to drop out because he lacked the funds to pay the next year’s tuition.
Despite this setback, Boykin realized that a Masters Degree was not a pre-requisite for inventive competence. He set out to work on project that he had contemplated while in school. Otis BoykinAt the time, the field of electronics was very popular among the science community and Boykin took a special interest in working with resistors. A resistor is an electronic component that slows the flow of an electrical current. This is necessary to prevent too much electricity from passing through a component than is necessary or even safe. Boykin sought and received a patent for a wire precision resistor on June 16, 1959. This resistor allowed for a specific amounts of current to flow through for a specific purpose and would be used in radios and televisions. Two years later, he created another resistor that could be manufactured very inexpensively. It was a breakthrough device as it could withstand extreme changes in temperature and tolerate and withstand various levels of pressure and physical trauma without impairing its effectiveness. The chip was cheaper and more reliable than others on the market. Not surprisingly, it was in great demand as he received orders from consumer electronics manufacturers, the United States military and electronics behemoth IBM.
In 1964, Boykin moved to Paris, creating electronic innovations for a new market of customers. Most of these creations involved electrical resistance components (including small component thick-film resistors used in computers and variable resistors used in guided missile systems) but he also created other important products including a chemical air filter and a burglarproof cash register. His most famous invention, however, was a control unit for the pacemaker, which used electrical impulses to stimulate the heart and create a steady heartbeat. In a tragic irony, Boykin died in 1982 as a result of heart failure.
Otis Boykin proved that the setback of having to drop out of school was not enough to deter him from his dream of becoming an inventor and having a long-lasting effect on the world.