Inventors and Patents From the City of Jackson
The city of Jackson is home to many inventors and is a great location for them. This is because the city is technologically advanced and has many manufacturing firms. Finding a manufacturer or company to create your product is an essential step in the invention process. To help with this, you can join the local inventor network. Members sign confidentiality agreements, which protect your ideas.
Andrew Jackson Beard
Andrew Jackson Beard was born into slavery in the 1840s, but he became a famous entrepreneur and inventor in the 1880s and 1890s. This self-taught man invented many things, including a railroad car automatic coupling device and a type of rotary steam engine. He founded several successful businesses in the Jefferson County area. While still a slave, Beard lived a life of hardship.
Beard was awarded a National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006, which recognizes great technological advances by women and men. He was selected for induction by a committee that included representatives from leading national scientific and technical organizations. Although he died in 1921, he remains a popular figure in the city of Jackson.
Beard was born on a plantation near Center Point, Mississippi. He raised three sons, including Andrew Beard Jr., but the youngest of them died in childhood. He then lent his name to the four children of a tenant family. He also built a small school and church in Center Point.
While working on his farm, Beard also built a flour mill on his land. His first patent, for an improved plow, was sold in 1884 for $4,000. In 1887, he invented a second plow, the “Season Plow”. The patent cost him $5,200, but Beard’s profit was enough to make him wealthy. Beard also invested his profits into his real estate business.
Beard’s rotary steam engine is also worth noting. His patented invention was a boon for the railroad industry. He said his design was safer than previous versions and would cost less to produce. However, it never gained widespread popularity.
The Jenny Coupler is another invention Beard was responsible for. It eliminated the need for railroad workers to stand between uncoupled railroad cars and made the process easier. His invention also earned him additional patents for an automatic car coupler. He later sold the rights to his invention to others, which made him a rich man. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006.
Thomas L. Jennings
Thomas Jennings is the first African-American to receive a patent. His patent, dated March 3, 1821, was for a dry-cleaning process known as dry scouring. This invention, which is still used today, helped revolutionize the industry of dry cleaning. Jennings, who was born free in New York City in 1791, became one of the city’s first African-American inventors.
The fire destroyed many of the inventors’ patents. Before the fire, patents were catalogued by their names and issue dates. But after the fire, the Patent Office began numbering patents. Some copies of Jennings’ patent were given an ‘X’ number to identify them as being part of the burned batch. Today, 2,800 ‘X-patents’ have been recovered, but Jennings’ is not among them.
Thomas Jennings’ daughter Elizabeth Jennings became an activist. She refused to board a whites-only streetcar in 1854, which led to a landmark lawsuit. Ultimately, the court ruled that the company must desegregate its streetcars. The ruling made it illegal to eject black people from public transportation.
Jennings was an active civil rights and abolitionist. He was a founder of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York and served as assistant secretary of the First Annual Convention of People of Color in Philadelphia. He also supported the Freedom’s Journal, the first Black-owned newspaper in the U.S. His children became active members of the abolitionist movement and received an education.
Norbert Rillieux, a native of New Orleans, was one of the earliest innovators in the area of sugar refinery. He developed a process that eliminated the need for steam at the wrong locations and improved the efficiency of the industry. He was born free on a plantation in 1806 and became a successful engineer and inventor during his lifetime. He was educated in Catholic schools and at L’Ecole Centrale in Paris.
In addition to his inventions, he also served the community. He was a conductor on the Underground Railroad. His efforts benefited more than one thousand people who had been enslaved. The African-American population tended to live in rural areas and work in agriculture. However, as the 19th century progressed, many black inventors moved to the industrial and urban centers to find better employment and sharpen their talents.
Johnson is an inventor who holds more than 250 patents. Many of these are related to his famous “Super Soaker.” For his work, he received an Air Force Commendation Medal and an Air Force Achievement Medal. He also won several NASA awards for his work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Johnson was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2011 and the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2015, among other honors.
Lonnie Johnson was a NASA engineer who went on to invent dozens of patents. Today, he owns his own company, Johnson Research and Development. In addition, he continues to work with NASA. His inventions will forever change the world.
Johnson attended Tuskegee University and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. After graduating from Tuskegee, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, fulfilling the ROTC scholarship requirement. While in the Air Force, Johnson received his first patent for a “Digital Distance Measuring Instrument” and an early version of DVD reading technology. He later left the Air Force and worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he contributed to the Galileo mission to Jupiter.
Johnson has won multiple awards and been recognized for his innovations. His inventions include the Super Soaker and the Power Drencher. He holds over 80 patents and has founded several other companies. His latest invention, the Super Soaker, was a big hit in the toy industry. Johnson has also become a mentor to young black men and women.
Other notable Jackson residents include Shirley Jackson, the first African-American president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. During her time there, she raised more than $1 billion for philanthropic causes. She also oversees a strategic initiative called The Rensselaer Plan.
In addition to the Galileo mission, Johnson was involved in developing a robotic vehicle named Linux. The device was three feet tall and had rotating joints and a steering system. Later, he worked on NASA’s Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn. As an inventor, Johnson continued to invent and patent products in his spare time.