Science, Inventions, Medicine, and Aerospace

Inventions and Patents

When were protective devices for smoke patented?

Garrett A. Morgan (1875–1963) was the first person to receive a patent for a safety hood and smoke protector, in 1912. He demonstrated its worth in 1916 by rescuing workers trapped in a smoke-filled tunnel of the Cleveland, Ohio, waterworks. Born on a farm near Paris, Kentucky, Morgan was one of eleven children born to a part-Indian slave mother who was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, and a father who was the son of a Confederate colonel. Morgan moved to Cincinnati and worked as a handyman for a prosperous landowner. He hired a tutor to help him improve his grammar. In 1895 he moved to Cleveland and worked for a clothing manufacturer, adjusting sewing machines. This led to one of several businesses that he began. First Morgan sold and repaired sewing machines, and in 1909 he established the Morgan Skirt Factory, a tailoring plant with thirty-two employees. In 1913 he founded the G. A. Morgan Hair Refining Company that offered a complete line of hair-care products bearing the Morgan label. Morgan was also the first to patent a three-way automatic traffic signal, in 1923; he sold the patent to General Electric. He became known as a very astute businessman and inventor.



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