USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog

Granville T. Woods — African American inventor

Granville Woods —  born in Columbus, OH in 1856 and who taught  himself electrical and mechanical engineering while working in railroad machine shops and steel mills — is perhaps best known for inventing a device called the ” Multiplex Railway Telegraph.” This variation of the “induction telegraph” allowed for messages to be sent from moving trains and railway stations — enabling greater railroad safety by allowing dispatchers to know the location of each train.  Twice Granville defeated a lawsuit by Thomas Edison that challenged this patent. Later, Granville even turned down Edison’s offer to make him a partner, preferring to work alone. Because of this and Granville’s other prolific inventions, he was often known as “the Black Edison.”

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