As Black History Month begins, the National Inventors Hall of Fame® is proud to unveil a new exhibit at our National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum, located at the headquarters of the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia. This new exhibit celebrates the work of six visionary Hall of Famers whose innovations have made a significant impact in our daily lives, influencing everything from health, safety and transportation to communication, beauty and play.
Now more than ever before, video calls have become a vital part of many of our daily routines. Whether we’re working from home or reaching out to distant friends and loved ones, we can thank Marian Croak for her work in advancing Voice over Internet Protocol technologies. With more than 200 U.S. patents, Croak has furthered communications technology and helped us all stay connected.
Charles Richard Drew
Charles Drew, a trailblazer in the field of blood plasma preservation, created innovative methods that not only saved the lives of thousands of Allied troops in World War II but also continue to save lives today. Drew established industry standards in storing, processing and shipping blood plasma, and he became the first director of the American Red Cross Blood Bank in New York.
With his invention of the Super Soaker®, one of the world’s bestselling toys, Lonnie Johnson made a major impact on the toy industry and shaped the future of play. Since its initial release in 1990, the Super Soaker has generated over $1 billion in sales, and more than 170 models have been on the market over the years. Using the compressed air technology employed by his water blaster, Johnson also developed the popular N-Strike® Nerf® dart toys.
Frederick McKinley Jones
Frederick McKinley Jones invented a mobile refrigeration system for trucks, railroad cars and airplanes that revolutionized the distribution of perishable items like food and medicine. Surpassing the use of salt and ice, Jones introduced a more efficient method that allowed fresh fruits and vegetables to be transported safely and successfully over longer distances.
Can you imagine our daily commutes without the use of traffic signals? Garrett Morgan invented the three-way traffic signal to decrease congestion, lower the number of collisions and increase the safety of pedestrians crossing the street. Considering that hundreds of thousands of traffic signals are used in the United States alone, it’s clear that Morgan’s work has been lifesaving.
Marjorie Stewart Joyner
Setting standards in the beauty industry, Marjorie Stewart Joyner patented one of the first permanent wave machines in the country. An innovative beauty shop owner, she designed the invention to do the work of multiple curling irons used simultaneously. Joyner also developed a scalp protector device, educated aspiring beauticians and was an executive for the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Co., as well as an advocate for civil rights. As we celebrate NIHF’s 50th year, we are proud to welcome Joyner to the Hall of Fame as a member of our 2023 Inductee class.
Learn More About NIHF Inductees
To meet more of the patent-holding creators, innovators and entrepreneurs our Hall of Fame has inducted so far, we invite you to visit our website.