February 11, 2010
Black History Month
Garrett Morgan was born on March 4, 1877 in Paris, Kentucky the seventh of 11 children born to Sydney and Elizabeth Morgan. Garrett, at the early age of 14 decided that he should travel north to Ohio in order to receive a higher education. He moved to Cincinnati and then to Cleveland, working as a handyman in order to make ends meet. In Cleveland, he learned the inner workings of the sewing machine and in 1907 opened his own sewing machine store, selling new machines and repairing old ones. In 1908 Morgan married Mary Anne Hassek with whom he would have three sons.
In 1912, Morgan developed another invention Morgan called it a Safety Hood and tested it as a Breathing Device, but the world came to know it as a Gas Mask. The Safety Hood consisted of a hood worn over the head of a person from which emanated a tube which reached near the ground and allowed in clean air. The bottom of the tube was lined with a sponge type material that would help to filter the incoming air. Another tube existed which allowed the user to let air out of the device. Morgan wanted the device to be used to provide a portable accessory which will allow a fireman to enter a house filled with thick suffocating gases and smoke and to breathe freely for some time therein, and thereby enable him to perform his duties of saving life and valuables without danger to himself from suffocation.
It is very typical and practical in an office to have a fax machine. Every time you walk in to an office, you may see one of these machines but have you ever wondered how they work? Have you ever thought, how can a machine transfer information from one phone to another without really sending the original document? Some people might think it’s magic but it is actually not. It is science in use, ...
One day he experienced a traffic accident when an automobile collided with a horse and carriage. The driver of the automobile was knocked unconscious and the horse had to be euthanized. He set out to develop a means of automatically directing traffic without the need of a policeman or worker present. He patented an automatic traffic signal which he said could be “operated for directing the flow of traffic” and providing a clear and unambiguous “visible indicator.” Satisfied with his efforts, Morgan sold the rights to his device to the General Electric Company for the astounding sum of $40,000.00 and it became the standard across the country. Today’s modern traffic lights are based upon Morgan’s original design.
In his later years, Morgan would develop glaucoma and would thereby lose 90% of his vision. He died on July 27, 1963 and because of his contribution, the world is certainly a much safer place.
Garrett Morgan is a inspirational African American who invented things that we as humans would not be able to survive without.