Black Inventors in Technology: Inventor of the Electret Microphone


After graduating from Temple University in 1957 with a degree in physics West hired with a full-time position as an acoustical scientist at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey.  In 1960 West teamed up with scientist Gerhard M. Sessler at Bell to develop an inexpensive compact microphone. In 1962 they finished the product and had successfully developed the foil electret microphone, an inexpensive, compact device. West’s and Sessler’s invention became the industry standard, and  now 90% of all contemporary microphones like the ones found in  telephones, tape recorders, cameras, baby monitors and hearing aids use their technology.

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