Inventors and Patents From the City of Memphis
In the week ending Aug. 6, five Memphis-area inventors had their patents granted. These include Lee De Forest, Lewis Latimer and Beulah Louise Henry. You can learn more about their contributions by reading this article. This article is not exhaustive, so you may want to read about more than one.
Beulah Louise Henry
Beulah Louise Henry is one of the most prolific female inventors of the twentieth century. She earned the nickname Lady Edison and was born in the city of Memphis, Tennessee. Henry, who was self-educated, credited her inventiveness to her natural curiosity and inspiration. She would often have a clear picture of the finished product in her mind before she began to write down her idea. Her unique inventions were so popular that she received 49 U.S. patents in her lifetime and is responsible for over 100 inventions.
Henry primarily focused on sewing machines and typewriters. Her patents included a “protograph” machine, which produced four typewritten copies without carbon paper. She also received patents for a double-chain stitch sewing machine and a feeding and alignment device for typewriters. She also developed a variety of children’s toys. However, her greatest invention was the invention of a device that allowed people to duplicate documents using a typewriter.
In addition to a vacuum ice cream freezer, Henry invented a typewriter accessory called a “protograph” that made four copies of a document in a single motion. Her other inventions included a parasol for use in hot weather, and a bobbin-less sewing machine. In addition to a number of inventions, Henry was also a prolific writer, artist, and humanitarian. She was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006.
Beulah Louise Henry was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, and received 49 patents during her lifetime. She was often referred to as “Lady Edison” due to her prolific output of inventions. Henry was a self-sufficient woman in the city, and was regarded as a highly innovative and successful woman.
Henry’s business suffered during the Great Depression, but she worked to make her business more successful by patenting her inventions. Her first successful patent application was for a toy with an internal spring structure that allowed it to spring back after play. This invention allowed for easy cleaning and improved durability. Additionally, the toy’s outer character could be changed at the will of the manufacturer.
The newspaper accounts of Henry’s life in Memphis reveal a more humanized Henry than she is today. Her public persona reflected a socially-accepting time. Her ambition was tempered by a sense of self-respect. Unlike her male contemporaries in science and technology, Henry was also financially independent. Her patents earned her a living by licensing her ideas. She reinvested the profits in her business. She hired a team of draftsmen, model makers, and attorneys, and they produced two patents annually.
The story of the life of Lewis Latimer, the Memphis-born inventor, dates back to the 1850s. He started as a draftsman at the Edison Electric Light Company in New York, and he eventually was promoted to the position of drafting master. His work there led him to patent the pivot bottom for railroad cars. In 1874, Latimer was also approached by Alexander Graham Bell, who wanted to patent the telephone.
In 1884, Lewis Latimer became an expert witness in patent litigation on electric lights. He helped Thomas Edison patent the light bulb, and he also improved the process of making a carbon filament. This was a huge improvement over Edison’s paper filament, which burned out quickly. Later, he worked as a patent consultant for law firms, and he is recognized as a national innovator.
Latimer moved to Flushing in the late nineteenth century. He was active in local politics, and he also became involved in civil rights issues. In 1902, he circulated a petition to Mayor Seth Low to have more African-Americans appointed to the school board. He also taught English at the Henry Street Settlement. He became a charter member of the Edison Pioneers, and his booklet was privately published in 1925 for his 75th birthday. He died in Flushing in 1928.
After Latimer’s father died in 1868, he struggled to make ends meet. He worked to support his family, and he joined the navy. He later took a menial job at the Crosby and Gould patent law firm. This allowed him to learn mechanical drawing, and he was soon promoted to a draftsman. He then worked in the patent law firm and designed several of his own inventions.
Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1848. His parents were slaves. His mother Rebecca Smith Latimer was a slave in Virginia. His father, George Latimer, was arrested for trespass. The family eventually moved to Chelsea, where they raised a family. Latimer’s life is not well-documented.
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell was born in Scotland and Canada but became a U.S. citizen in 1882. A few years later, he was named the 57th greatest Briton and was also listed among the Top Ten Greatest Americans. His name is still used in street names and educational institutions around the world.
Alexander Graham Bell’s greatest invention was the photophone, which allowed the transmission of normal human conversation. He and Charles Sumner Tainter later became full associates of the Volta Laboratory Association. Bell believed that his invention was the greatest thing that had ever happened in his life. It laid the foundation for modern fiber-optic and laser communication systems.
Alexander Graham Bell was born in 1847 in Edinburgh. His father, Melville Bell, taught him the science of sound. He came to the United States to become a teacher of the deaf, and in 1876 he invented the telephone. In 1876, Bell hired a student, Thomas Watson, to help him create his invention. Bell spoke the first telephone words on March 10, 1876.
Alexander Graham Bell studied at the University of Edinburgh. He also had a brother, Melville, who was deaf. The family moved to London in 1865. Alexander Bell passed the entrance exams for University College London. His father and brother were experts on elocution. His grandfather also taught speech therapy to the deaf. After college, Bell started a family and studied the human voice in Brantford, Ontario.
Alexander Graham Bell made his mark in science, and he won the Volta Prize in 1881 for his discovery. He later founded the Volta Laboratory in Washington, D.C., which is one of the world’s most famous.
Bell also developed the audiometer, and conducted experiments on energy recycling and alternative fuels. He also worked on methods to remove salt from seawater. His inventions have also led to improvements in the field of manned flight technology. He also experimented with propellers and kites. His idea of using the tetrahedron to design a kite was later applied to a manned flight.
Alexander Graham Bell was a famous American inventor, who made the telephone and invented many other useful inventions. He was also credited with developing the harmonic telegraph, a system for sending multiple signals or notes simultaneously. This invention led to the idea of human voice transmission.
Lee De Forest
Lee De Forest, Inventor of the Audion, was a major figure in early radio and sound-on-film recording. The audion’s regenerative oscillations allowed it to amplify weak electrical signals. It would go on to be used in radios, televisions, and the first computers. Eventually, the transistor replaced the Audion as the main amplification element for these devices.
De Forest was also credited as the inventor of the Talking Motion Picture. His career spanned the first three decades of the twentieth century, and he was an important figure in electronic communication. He had several patents on his inventions, including the patent for the Talking Motion Picture.
After graduating from college, De Forest moved to New York City to pursue his research on the optical sound-on-film process. In 1919, he filed his first patent for this process. This improved on earlier work by Eric Tigerstedt and Tri-Ergon. The Phonofilm system involved parallel lines with variable densities to convert electrical waveforms into sound. It was an early alternative to the RCA Photophone, which converted electrical waveforms into sound when the movie film was projected.
De Forest was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and was the son of Henry Swift DeForest and Anna Margaret Robbins. His father was a minister and hoped that his son would become a pastor. His father became president of Talladega College, an institution for educating primarily African-Americans, and was regarded as controversial by many white residents. De Forest spent his childhood in Talladega and made close friends with the black children of the town.
Aside from being an inventor, de Forest was also an activist. He was critical of the radio industry and published an open letter to the National Association of Broadcasters in 1940, complaining about the devaluation of radio broadcasts. He also proposed the creation of a primitive unmanned combat air vehicle.
In 1908, deForest patented the three-element vacuum tube. In the following year, it was discovered that this device was an effective oscillator. He was also a member of the Institute of Radio Engineers.