This question has a high range of difficulty, but I will try to answer…It is a particularly hard task because there are so many undocumented inventions by Black Men and Women that were assumed by the inventor’s slave masters.
Slaves were not considered American citizens and laws at the time prevented them from applying for or holding property, including patents. In 1857, the U.S. Commissioner of Patents officially ruled that slave inventions couldn’t be patented. During the 17th and 18th centuries, America was experiencing rapid economic growth. Black inventors were major contributors during this era – even though most did not obtain any of the benefits associated with their inventions since they could not receive patent protection. (a)
In the 1920s, using natural gas to power a heating furnace was a revolutionary idea that conserved energy and paved the way for the central heating systems we all have in our homes today. Once you make it to the bathroom, the commode is missing because B. Rhodes invented the water closet in 1899. (Today it is commonly known as the toilet.) The lighting in your home is dim and there is a need to consistently replace your lightbulb because Lewis Latimer patented a carbon filament for the incandescent lightbulb in 1881. The invention helped make electric lighting practical and affordable for the average household.
You also find yourselves searching for items needed to start your day. There’s no hairbrush because Lyda Newman created the new hairbrush concept in 1898. Her design greatly improved efficiency and hygiene. (b)
Your morning turns from bad to worse because you are not able to locate your cellphone. You destroy your home looking for the only true friend you have (the cellular phone), only to find that Henry T. Sampson invention and patent of the gamma-electrical cell, portable cell phones were possible, using radio waves to transmit and receive audio signals. It literally changed the world, and the way in which we communicate in our professional and personal lives. There’s no refrigerator because in 1868 John Stanard patent for the refrigerator and stove revolutionized the modern kitchen and was granted intellectual property rights for the two. (b)
I could go on for days, but the conclusion of the matter is that whether it’s the video home security system by Marie Van Britton Brown, the gas mask or traffic signal created by Garrett Morgan, the creation of the steam boiler furnace and automatic air brake created by Granville Woods or the Laserphaco Probe created by Patricia Bath; the list of contributions made by Black Historians to the world we have come to love and cherish will always be woven into the fabric of our lives.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “by the time we leave for work, Americans have depended on the inventions from the minds of Blacks.”