Alexander Miles
  Elijah McCoy
  Lewis Latimer
  Jan Ernst Matzeliger
  Granville T. Woods
  George Washington Carver
  Madam C. J. Walker
  Garrett Morgan
  Dr. Charles Richard Drew
Otis Boykin
  James E. West
  Dr. Patricia Bath
  Lonnie G. Johnson
  Mark Dean

Famous African American Inventors

Courtesy of the Boykin family, Dallas,

Otis Boykin


Boykin improved the pacemaker and made everyday electronic devices, such as the television and computers, more efficient and affordable.

Background: Boykin was born in Dallas, Texas. He attended Fisk College in Nashville, Tenn., and continued his education at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

Invention: After working in electronics, Boykin developed a special interest in resistors. Resistors slow the flow of electricity, allowing a safe amount of electricity to move through a device. In 1959, he patented a "wire precision resistor," which allowed specific amounts of electrical currents to flow for a specific purpose. Soon after, he created a new resistor that could withstand shifts in temperature and air pressure. It was a huge breakthrough that allowed many electronic devices to be made more cheaply and more reliably than ever before. Boykin's resistors were used in products from televisions and IBM computers to military missiles. Boykin also famously invented a control unit for the pacemaker, a device implanted in the body to help the heart beat normally. Boykin's invention allowed the pacemaker to be more precisely regulated.

Did You Know? Ironically, Boykin died of heart failure in 1982.