Thread Shows The Awesome Inventions We Wouldn't Have Without Black Women

Valerie Thomas, creator of the Illusion Transmitter, still used by NASA today.  NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

A thread of inventions that wouldn't exist without black women has gone viral, and goddamnit we're using that as a good enough excuse to talk about some of those inventors and their innovative, worthwhile, and just downright awesome inventions.


The thread is taken from this post from the Female Quotient on Instagram.


Marian Croak

Let's start off with one invention you're probably extremely grateful for right now, even if you have no idea what it is: Voice Over Internet Protocol. Sounds sexy, doesn't it? As Vice President of Engineering at Google, Marian Croak is credited with initiating and further developing VOIP. The tech allows people to communicate through audio and/or video over the Internet. Croak is a credited developer of most of the features of VOIP that led to its nearly universal adoption.

Gladys West

If you've ever been asked, "how did you get here?" by an older relative and replied, "I followed the Sat Nav" you owe mathematician Gladys West big time for saving you a very dull conversation about road navigation. After a college education where she was outnumbered vastly by men, West began work at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, where she was one of just four black employees. She analyzed data from satellites to put together models of the Earth's shape, eventually programming an IBM computer to create even more precise calculations of Earth's shape. The data became the basis of GPS. 

Alice H. Parker

Enjoy not freezing to death in winter? Ah, I see you are a fan of Alice H. Parker. Shortly after World War I, Parker found a way to keep houses warm without having an actual fire burning away in whatever room you happen to be in at the time. On December 23, 1919, she filed a patent for a central heating furnace, using air ducts to spread heat around the home from a central furnace burning natural gas. Her system allowed you to control the amount of heat going to different areas of the building, and paved the way for the central heating systems we use today. 

Lisa Gelobter

We know you've used a GIF to indicate your reaction to something, or giggled like a maniac at one of somebody falling over and hitting their crotch on some railing. Don't pretend you're better than that. Well, you have Lisa Gelobter to thank for that. At CompuServe, computer scientist Gelobter laid the early groundwork for GIFs, developing the animation used to produce the Internet's favorite way of communicating.

Check out the others (a small selection out of many, many black women inventors) on Instagram and feel free to share any more.


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