Celebrating Black History Month and Black Excellence in Technology

As we get closer to the midpoint of February, AVANT is celebrating and honoring Black History Month. We are taking a closer look at some of the Black pioneers in our industry, past and present, who have made the work that we do today possible!

Granville Woods

Born in 1856, Granville Woods was an inventor. By the time of his death in 1910, he held more than 50 patents. After the Civil War, Woods became the first African American mechanical and electrical engineer. He devoted much of his work to trains and streetcars. Some of Woods’ inventions still live on in the safe and reliable public transportation Americans use each day. Beyond that, he also held patents for an automatic break, egg incubator, and improvements to other technologies such as the safety circuit, telegraph, telephone, and phonograph.

Evelyn Boyd Granville

Born in 1924, Evelyn Boyd Granville was one of the first women to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics. She began working for IBM in 1956, where she eventually contributed to projects for the U.S. Space Technology Laboratories and the Apollo program, including celestial mechanics, trajectory computation, and “digital computer techniques”. Granville has also worked at several educational institutions and developed math enrichment programs for elementary-aged children. She remains a strong advocate for women’s education in technology.

Dr. Shirley Jackson

Born in 1946, Dr. Shirley Jackson is an American physicist. She is credited with inventing the touch-tone telephone, the portable fax, fiber-optic cells, solar cells, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting. Among other achievements, she is the first African American woman to earn a doctorate from MIT. Additionally, Jackson is the first woman and African American to serve as president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Jackson has received many honors and distinctions in her lifetime and remains a global pioneer in science and for Black women in technology.

Mark Dean

Born in 1957, Mark Dean is an American inventor and computer scientist. He is also a co-creator of the IBM personal computer. His work contributed significantly to the development of the PC monitor. Dean also led teams that designed the one-gigahertz processing computer chip and the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) Bus. In 1995, Dean was named an IBM Fellow, which marks high excellence in the technology industry, making him the first African American to do so.

As we make our way through Black History Month, join AVANT in taking some time to consider the many ways you can celebrate. Diving deeper into the history of the technology industry through the lens of Black pioneers, visiting a local Black history museum or heritage site, supporting Black-owned restaurants and other businesses, and incorporating more Black artists, authors, and other creators into the content you consume each day are some of the many ways to honor Black History Month!