Three Black Women Pioneers in Technology



By Victor Trammell

In Black Blue Dog’s month-long Your Black Historytribute, our publication has mostly tried to focus on profiling black Americans in history that have contributed to our society in other areas than sports and entertainment.

Today’s edition of our series, which promotes the historical achievements of black Americans features the stories of three women who pioneered key groundbreaking inventions.

Marie-Van-Brittan-Brown1. Marie Van Brittan Brown

Marie Van Brittan Brown was born on October 30, 1922 in Queens, New York. She was the first person in America to develop the patent for closed circuit television security. Brown’s innovative model was a motorized camera that contained four peepholes. The motorized camera could be moved from one peephole to the other while the camera’s images were able to be displayed on a monitor. The camera’s door could be unlocked remotely by using an electrical switch. Brown was able to officially patent her invention in 1969.  Her brilliant invention laid the ground work for today’s closed circuit television system that law enforcement bureaus and private companies use for crime prevention, traffic monitoring, and surveilance.

220px-Patriciabath2. Dr. Patricia Bath

Dr. Patricia Era Bath was born on November 4, 1942 in Harlem, New York. In 1981, Dr. Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe. The Laserphaco Probe is used to remove cataracts. Cataracts are an eye disease that can cause blindness. However, earlier surgical procedures used to remove cataracts had numerous side effects. In 1988, Dr. Bath perfected her great invention even further and received the first of four patents issued pertaining to the Laserphaco Probe. Dr. Bath’s modifications to the laser probe for cataract removal made the mechanism more accurate and helped the process of removing cataracts occur much more quickly.

Dr-Betty-Harris-351x4143. Dr. Betty Harris

Betty Harris earned her Ph.D. from the University of New New Mexico. After Harris’ earned her doctorate’s  degree in chemistry, she went to work as a reasearch chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. While at Los Alamos, Dr. Harris worked specifically in the explosives field. In 1986, Dr. Harris obtained a patent for a mechanism that identified the sensitivity level of explosives. Her contributions were very significant in the field of science. In 1996, Dr. Harris was one of only eight people selected to be inducted in the National Science Foundation’s “Women in Science” profile.