Black tech innovators developed much of the technology we use in our daily lives. Most of us don’t think about who invented the technology that we rely on, let alone whether they were black or white, male or female. If we do, it’s probably a white man that first comes to mind. But women and Black American men played critical roles in this field as well.
Since 1976, every U.S. president has designated February as Black History Month. February was chosen coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. What is now a month long celebration of the achievements by African Americans grew out of “Negro History Week,” established in 1917. Author, journalist and historian Carter G. Woodson lobbied for recognition of black stories and contributions and is now acknowledged as the “Father of Black History.”
Frank Greene is among the first Black tech innovators who developed high-speed computer systems in the 1960s. Greene also founded the software companies Technology Development Corp. and ZeroOne Systems, Inc.
Alan Emtage is a systems administrator who later formulated and implemented Archie, the world’s first Internet search engine.
Mark Dean is one of technology’s top innovators. The computer engineer helped design the IBM personal computer, introduced in 1981, that became the predominant desktop. Along with co-inventor and IBM colleague Dennis Moeller, Dean developed the interior hardware that allowed computers to connect to external hardware, such as printers and monitors.
Imagine how different our lives would be without high-speed computers, the ability to find information on the internet, or “back in the day,” the ability to print and share information!
In researching black innovators our field, I discovered an excellent blog post and video series by the custom web app developer, Caktusgroup, which highlights lesser-known African Americans who made an impact in the tech industry.
“Learn why Jerry Lawson is known as the Father of Modern Gaming and how vaccine distribution is impacted by the inventions of Frederick McKinley Jones. Learn about the efforts of Kimberly Bryant and Erica Baker to promote diversity and inclusion, including inspiring young girls of color to learn how to code.”
Whether we’re part of the tech industry or just a user of technology, let’s take the time to learn, recognize, appreciate and celebrate the contributions of these pioneers.