Granville T. Woods: African American Inventer

1169 words - 5 pages

Granville T. Woods was an assiduous African American inventor who is worthy of a position in the American Historical Hall of Fame. 'Woods was born a free man on April 23, 1856 in Columbus, Ohio to Tailer and Martha Woods.' (Gale, p 4) "He attended school until the age of 10, when family circumstances forced him to go to work. He quickly displayed a thirst of knowledge and a keen ability to observe the workings of machines around him." (ABC-CLIO p 1) Woods never married during his life; he died on January 28, 1910 of a stroke, at the age of 53. At the end of his life Woods was virtually penniless.Even though he was forced to leave school at 10 and work, he found ways to teach himself as much as he could. "Woods paid the shop's master mechanic for private lessons to increase his knowledge and skills." (ABC-CLIO p 1) When he transferred to New York he showed an interest in electricity, and in 1876 he took night classes in mechanical and electrical engineering. He was constantly reading and studying. He attended East Coast College for two years and studied mechanical and electrical engineering.Some formative experiences Woods experienced were, one, his time on the British steamship, Ironsides, and two, his successful experiment with an underground system of Electric Propulsion. 'He spent two years on the British steamship as an engineer at the age of 22. He got to travel the world and he learned as much as he could.' (ABC-CLIO p 1) 'His successful experiment with an underground system of electric propulsion took place on Coney Island, on September 15, 1893. It was a better form of the street car trolley. The experiment was to show that it would work perfectly in all weather conditions.' (NYT p 4) This was a great success and gained him a lot of recognition.During Woods lifetime he worked at many different places, and typically not for a long amount of time, usually around two years. When he was first forced to work, he was an apprentice at a blacksmith and machine shop. 'At the age of 16 he was a train fireman on the Missouri Iron Mountain Railroad. He then moved to Springfield, Illinois where he worked in an iron and steel rolling mill. Woods transferred to a machine shop in New York at the age of 20. After traveling the world on Ironsides, he was an engineer on Danville and Southern Railroad in Cincinnati, Ohio. While in Cincinnati, he and his brother Lyates set up Woods Electric Company, Woods was 28.' (Haber ch 6)Woods is credited with over 60 patents. 'His first invention was in 1884, it was a more efficient steam boiler furnace. He invented a telephone transmitter that was better than that of Alexander Graham Bell's. Another one of his inventions dealing with electricity was the "telegraphony". It was a combination telegraph and telephone, and made communication easier. The American Bell Telephone Company paid for rights to both patents of his telephone transmitter and telegraphony, recognizing their value. One of Woods' most beneficial...

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