Dr. Patricia Bath, ophthalmologist, invented a laser device to remove cataracts. She is the first African American woman to obtain a medical patent.
Thomas Jennings was the first African American to receive a patent, on March 3, 1821. His patent was for a dry-cleaning process called “dry scouring”. The first money Thomas Jennings earned from his patent was spent on the legal fees necessary to liberate his family out of slavery and support the abolitionist cause
Though Thomas Edison is recognized as the inventor of the light bulb, African American inventor Lewis Latimer played an important role in its development. In 1881, Latimer patented a method for making carbon filaments, allowing light bulbs to burn for hours instead of minutes. Latimer also drafted the drawings that helped Alexander Graham Bell receive a patent for the telephone.