Black Geniuses: Top 5 Tech Industry Inventors

Now that Bitcoin is hitting the market for $10,000, let’s honor the virtual currency by taking a look at some of the most profound inventors in computer science history. With an e-commerce technology like Bitcoin powerful enough to lower the value of the U.S. Dollar, let’s take a look at some of the greatest African American contributions to the world of computers, technology, gaming and even film.  

5. Valerie Thomas

Starting off our list, is Valerie Thomas, a well known NASA scientist who holds a patent for an illusion transmitter (1980). The device produces optical illusion images using two concave mirrors. Her transmitter is responsible for the 3-D images that make up many of the cartoons and movies we watch today.  Thomas’ creation has also been successfully used in performing surgeries in the medical field.   

4. Gerald “Jerry Lawson

The late Gerald A. Lawson pioneered home video gaming in 1970 by helping create the Farichild Channel F. This invention was the first home video game system with interchangeable games. Without Lawson’s creation, we would not be able to play the newest NBA 2K game on a Playstation 4 or Xbox One; it would still have to be all in one console like an Atari. Even the Sega Genesis was not around until about 1988, making Lawson a pioneer and legend to the gaming world before it even became mainstream.

3. Marc Hannah

As one of the founders of Silicon Graphics (aka SGI) in 1982, Marc Hannah is just as important to American history and culture as the films Jurassic Park and Terminator 2. At Silicon Graphics, Hannah developed 3-D graphic technology that would be used in movies all throughout Hollywood. In order to make Marc Hannah’s name even more relevant to my fellow 90s babies and millennials, anyone who enjoys playing classic video games like Donkey Kong, owes him a thank you because he was instrumental in designing the legendary Nintendo 64 gaming system.

2. Henry T. Sampson

The next time you tell your friends and family, “hit me up,” make sure you think of Henry T. Sampson. Although Henry T. isn’t credited as the creator of the cell phone, he contributed largely to its functionality and evolution. On July 6, 1971, Sampson was awarded a patent with George H. Miley for the invention of the gamma-electric cell, a direct-conversion energy device that converts the energy generated from the radiation of high-energy gamma rays into electricity. This inventor is one reason why the technology that would later be put into our mobile devices gives us the ability to contact someone from nearly anywhere on the planet.

1. Mark Dean

At number one, we have perhaps the most important inventor of our time, Mark Dean, who changed the world with 3 of the 9 patents owned by IBM for the original personal computer (PC). Dean’s name is also associated with over 20 patents in total. Mark Dean is most importantly known for inventing the system bus. This advance in engineering is the reason why we are able to plug in peripherals to our computers such as disk drives, printers and monitors. This changed the world of computing since computers had typically only been for businesses and the wealthy. Dean, however, revolutionized computers by making them more efficient and easy  for everyone to use. ]]>

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