Black Inventors in Technology: Inventor of the Gas Mask & Traffic Light


After witnessing a collision between an automobile and a horse-drawn carriage, Garrett Morgan created a new kind of traffic signal, one with a warning light to alert drivers that they would need to stop.  Morgan applied for a  patent on his traffic signal in the United States, that was granted on November 20, 1923. He also had his invention patented in Britain and Canada. Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 11.58.18 AM

Morgan also made national news  in 1916 when he used his gas mask to rescue men trapped in a tunnel below Lake Erie. He was granted a patent in 1914 for a Safety Hood & Smoke Protector, and after the rescue his company received requests from fire departments around the country who wanted to purchase the masks. A cool fun fact about his gas mask is that it was later refined for use by the U.S. Army during World War 1.

gas mask

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