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Meet Black Man Who Invented Telegraphony, Roller Coaster, Multiplex Telegraph, Air-Brake System And 60 Other Inventions – Granville T. Woods

Meet Black Man Who Invented Telegraphony, Roller Coaster, Multiplex Telegraph, Air-Brake System And 60 Other Inventions - Granville T. Woods
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Granville T. Woods was a black inventor who received at least 50 government patents for his numerous inventions. Over a dozen of these patents were for electric train inventions, but the majority of them were for electrical control and distribution. The induction telegraph, a technique for communication with and from moving trains, was his most notable invention. Granville T. Woods was dubbed “the black Thomas Edison” by many.

Granville T. Woods was born on April 23, 1856, in Columbus, Ohio, and went to work after irregularly attending school until he was ten years old. Working in railroad machine shops and steel mills, as well as reading about electricity, helped Woods expand his education.

 

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Granville T. Woods
Granville T. Woods

Due to the exclusion of African-Americans from many libraries at the time, he frequently had acquaintances take out library books for him. Woods relocated to Springfield, Illinois in 1874 to work in a rolling mill. In 1876, he relocated to the East and worked part-time in a machine business. He also attended a mechanical engineering course at a college in the east.

Granville Woods joined the Ironsides, a British steamer, as an engineer in 1878 and rose through the ranks to Chief Engineer within two years. Even with this experience and all of his engineering skills, he couldn’t find work in these fields. His travels and experiences led him to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he settled.

Despite being largely self-taught, Woods was able to gather enough electrical engineering knowledge to design “telegraphony,” a method that was eventually purchased by Alexander Graham Bell’s firm.

Telegraphony Invented By Granville T. Woods
Telegraphony Invented By Granville T. Woods

Telegraphony integrated the capabilities of both the telephone and the telegraph to allow operators to send and receive messages more swiftly than before. Granville Woods was able to become a full-time inventor once the Bell Company purchased his innovation.

The multiplex telegraph was one of Granville Woods’ later innovations. The gadget not only helped dispatchers detect trains but also allowed moving trains to converse via telegraph, making it a success in the dominant railroad industry of the late nineteenth century. Because of the utility of this discovery, Woods found himself fighting patent suits brought by none other than Thomas Edison. 

Granville T. Woods Invented Multiplex Telegraph
Granville T. Woods Invented Multiplex Telegraph

Despite the fact that Woods eventually prevailed, Edison persisted in his pursuit of the telegraph by offering Woods a substantial partnership in one of Edison’s firms. Woods declined and preferred to be self-sufficient.

He rebuilt his Cincinnati company as the Woods Electric Co after getting the patent for the multiplex telegraph, but in 1890 he moved his personal research operations to New York City, where he was joined by a brother, Lyates Woods, who had several discoveries of his own. 

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Woods not only invented part of the technology that keeps the subways working, but he also played a role in the development of the roller coaster, which he introduced in the summer of 1909 at Coney Island.

Granville T. Woods invented the roller coaster
Granville T. Woods invented the roller coaster
Granville T. Woods invented roller coaster 1
Granville T. Woods invented the roller coaster

The power pick-up mechanism, invented by Woods in 1901, provides the foundation for the so-called “third rail” currently employed by electric-powered transport systems.

Granville T. Woods gained patents for an improved air-brake system during the next few years, and by the time he died on January 30, 1919, he had over 60 patents, many of which were assigned to important manufacturers of electrical equipment that are still used today.

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