Black Telecommunications Inventors



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Meet, Dr. Gladys Mae West an African American mathematician known for her contributions to the mathematical modeling of the shape of the Earth, and her work on the development of the satellite Geodesy models that were eventually incorporated into the Global Positioning System, GPS.

Born: October 27, 1930 (age 91 years), Sutherland, Virginia, United States
Nationality: American
Known for: Satellite geodesy

Gladys West never knew that her work at a U.S. Navy base in Virginia back in the 1950s and ’60s would play a pivotal role in creating a popular form of technology that is now incorporated into cell phones, cars, space programs, the military, aviation, and even social media. Her work focused on data collection from orbiting satellites and the mathematical modeling of the shape of the Earth. Her development of the satellite models was eventually incorporated into the Global Positioning System (GPS) used worldwide today. 

Her lifelong commitment to education and excellence is an inspiration. Today we honor this hidden hero for her work in helping us all find our way wherever we are headed.

Her Story: Gladys Mae West – The GPS #GPS

Meet, Dr. Marian Rogers Croak, who invented the VOIP system for making calls over the Internet. 

Dr. Marian Rogers Croak is a Vice President of Engineering at Google. She has previously served as Senior Vice President of Research and Development at AT&T, where she and her team worked on advancing voice over IP technologies, furthering the capabilities of audio and video conferencing.

Dr. Croak was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, inductee class of 2022. She is credited as a developer of Voice over IP creating most of the methods and features that both improved its reliability and ushered in its nearly universal adoption.

Meet, Mr Russell and Dr. Sampson two black men who invented the mobile phone – inventors…

Meet, Dr Henry T. Sampson – The Man Who Created the First Cell Phone Back in 1971

Dr Henry Thomas Sampson, Jr. born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1934, died June 4, 2015 in Stockton, CA[1] was an African-American inventor, known for creating the gamma-electric cell–a device with the main goal of generating auxiliary power from the shielding of a nuclear reactor.

A black man invented the cellphone

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Henry T. Sampson received a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in 1956. He went on to the University of California, Los Angeles where he graduated with an MS degree in engineering in 1961; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, MS in Nuclear Engineering in 1965, and a PHD in 1967.

On 6 July 1971, Dr. Sampson invented the “gamma-electric cell”, which pertains to Nuclear Reactor use. This invention produces stable high-voltage output and current to detect radiation in the ground. The gamma-electric cell made it possible to send and receive audio signals via radio waves without wires; therefore, Henry Sampson has also been credited as the inventor of a cell phone, which became available in 1983.

Dr Henry T. Sampson worked as a research Chemical Engineer at the US Naval Weapons Center, China Lake, California, from 1956 to 1961. He then moved on to the Aerospace Corp, El Segundo, California. His titles include: Project Engineer, 1967-81, director of Planning and Operations Directorate of Space Test Program, 1981-, and Co-inventor of gamma-electric cell. He holds patents related to solid rocket motors and conversion of nuclear energy into electricity. He also pioneered a study of internal ballistics of solid rocket motors using high-speed photography.
In addition, Henry Sampson was a producer of documentary films on early black filmmakers and films and a technical consultant to Historical Black Colleges and Universities Program.

His patents included a binder system for propellants and explosives and a case bonding system for cast composite propellants. Both inventions are related to solid rocket motors.

On July 6, 1971, he was awarded a patent, with George H. Miley, for a gamma-electrical cell, a device that produces a high voltage from radiation sources, primarily gamma radiation, with proposed goals of generating auxiliary power from the shielding of a nuclear reactor. Additionally, the patent cites the cell’s function as a detector with self-power and construction cost advantages over previous detectors.

Meet, Mr Jesse Eugene Russell, inventor of the cellphone.

Russell was born on April 26, 1948, in Nashville, Tennessee. His family lived in a very poor and socially deprived part of Nashville. Fortunately, he got the opportunity to attend a summer education program at Fisk University and he did exceptionally well. Then, he moved on to study electrical engineering at Tennesse State University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering (BSEE). In 1973, Russell went further in his academic achievements to obtain a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering (MSEE) from Standford University.

While Russell was working as an engineer at AT&T-Bell Laboratories in 1988, he created the concept for the wireless digital phone and communication. At the time, mobile devices were mainly used in vehicles, so Russell designed a cell phone that could transmit signals between handsets and cell phone towers. Doing so would make mobile phones more handy and also more affordable. In a statement, Russell once said, “Most of the time people are not in their cars. I said, ‘Well that seems like an easy problem to solve, right? Why don’t we just take the phones out of the car and put them on the people.'”

Russell is responsible for other innovations in the field of wireless communications systems. He also created a company based in New Jersey called incNETWORKS Inc, a broadband wireless communication system that focuses on 4G broadband wireless communications technologies, networks and services.

Meet, Mr. Freddie Figgers, Black-Owned Telecommunications Company Debuts First 5G Smartphone

Freddie Figgers is a computer scientist, inventor, entrepreneur and founder of Figgers Communication – the only African American owned telecommunications company in the US. Shortly after his birth in 1989, Figgers was placed in a dumpster in rural Florida. He was found by passers-by and hospitalized for two days before being put into a foster home. Figgers was adopted by Nathan and Betty …

Freddie Figgers is an American Inventor, software engineer, telecom entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the founder of Figgers Communication, The Figgers Foundation, and FiggHealth. Freddie Figgers always had a passion for innovation and technology and at an early age Freddie Figgers developed several successful inventions, to help his father battle with the Dementia Alzheimer’s disease, Freddie built a shoe with a GPS tracker with two-way communication to track his father. When he was 15 years old, Freddie started a cloud computing services company. At the age of 16 years, Freddie started Figgers Communication. Freddie Figgers has made it his life passion to changing and making the world a better place.

“Don’t let your circumstances define who you are.”

Just one piece of advice 31-year-old entrepreneur Freddie Figgers would like to pass on to others.

Watch “Telecom Mogul Freddie Figgers Sips Lucky 7, Wilderness Trail and Lot 40”


Black-Owned Telecomms Co Debuts First 5G Smartphone

Meet Pro. Dr. Mark Dean, he is the computer scientist who brought us the crucial Universal Serial Bus (USB) Ports that most modern mobile devices essentially charge from, and carry data at highspeeds.

Dean was born on March 2, 1957, in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Dean is credited with helping to launch the personal computer age with work that made the machines more accessible and powerful.

Computer scientist and engineer Dr. Mark Dean is credited with helping develop a number of landmark technologies, including the color PC monitor, the Industry Standard Architecture system bus and the first gigahertz chip.

Computer scientist and engineer Dr. Dean helped develop a number of landmark technologies for IBM, including the color PC monitor and the first gigahertz chip. He holds three of the company’s original nine patents. He also invented the Industry Standard Architecture system bus with engineer Dennis Moeller, allowing for computer plug-ins such as disk drives and printers.

Last,  but not least:

Meet, Dr. Dre, The inventor and designer of the world’s best Headphones and Earplugs for mobile phones and more. Which which he sold to Apple, for a heafty $3 Billion!


Beats by Dr. Dre logo

In July 2008, Dr. Dre released his first brand of headphones, Beats by Dr. Dre. The line consisted of Beats Studio, a circumaural headphone; Beats Tour, an in-ear headphone; Beats Solo & Solo HD, a supra-aural headphone; Beats Spin; Heartbeats by Lady Gaga, also an in-ear headphone; and Diddy Beats.  In late 2009, Hewlett-Packard participated in a deal to bundle Beats By Dr. Dre with some HP laptops and headsets. HP and Dr. Dre announced the deal on October 9, 2009, at a press event. An exclusive laptop, known as the HP ENVY 15 Beats limited edition, was released for sale October 22. In May 2014, technology giant Apple purchased the Beats brand for $3 billion! The deal made Dr. Dre the “richest man in hip hop”. Dr. Dre became an Apple employee in an executive role, and worked with Apple for years.


Andre Romelle Young (born February 18, 1965), known professionally as Dr. Dre, is an American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics, and previously co-founded, co-owned, and was the president of Death Row Records. Dr. Dre began his career as a member of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru in 1985 and later found fame with the gangsta rap group N.W.A. The group popularized explicit lyrics in hip hop to detail the violence of street life. During the early 1990s, Dre was credited as a key figure in the crafting and popularization of West Coast G-funk, a subgenre of hip hop characterized by a synthesizer foundation and slow, heavy beats.

Philanthropy – Dr Dre’s philanthropic deeds

During May 2013, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine donated a $70 million endowment to the University of Southern California to create the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. The goal of the academy has been stated as “to shape the future by nurturing the talents, passions, leadership and risk-taking of uniquely qualified students who are motivated to explore and create new art forms, technologies, and business models.” The first class of the academy began in September 2014.
In June 2017, it was announced that Dr. Dre has committed $10 million to the construction of a performing arts center for the new Compton High School. The center will encompass creative resources and a 1,200-seat theater, and is expected to break ground in 2020. The project is a partnership between Dr. Dre and the Compton Unified School District.

Commercial endorsements

In 2002 and 2003, Dr. Dre appeared in TV commercials for Coors Light beer.
Beginning in 2009, Dr. Dre appeared in TV commercials that also featured his Beats Electronics product line. A 2009 commercial for the Dr Pepper soft drink had Dr. Dre DJing with Beats headphones and playing a brief snippet off the never-released Detox album. In 2010, Dr. Dre had a cameo in a commercial for HP laptops that featured a plug for Beats Audio. Then in 2011, the Chrysler 300S “Imported from Detroit” ad campaign had a commercial narrated by Dr. Dre and including a plug for Beats Audio

Rap mogul, Dr. Dre, has topped “The World’s 25 Highest-Paid Musicians” list. According to Forbes, Dre raked in $110 million in pretax earnings. He can credit his large earnings to his Beats by Dre headphones line.
He definitely knows that it takes more than music to stay afloat these days. Record labels are not too eager to sign the next best thing. As a result of the economy, it is too risky to invest in developing artists, whether you have been in the game a short time or a lifetime. Branding is key.
Dre started out with the notorious rap group NWA.  He went on to have a successful solo career in the 90s, discovering rappers like Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion. When his rap career started to simmer, Dre switched gears and started bringing others on board like 50 Cent and Eminem, through Interscope records.
50 Cent even followed in Dre’s footsteps, by stepping outside of the rap realm and into deals with VitaWater and teaching others how to be entrepreneurs abroad in Africa. Dre then linked up with headphone maker, Monster, to launch Beats by Dre. He was the first to do so and then others followed suit.
Dre has linked up with HP to push the Beats By Dre brand even further. Dre has not backed away from the rap scene all together. He still plans on releasing his long awaited album, Detox. Around the same time of that release Dre is looking to make his dollars grow even more by launching an “ Aftermath” cognac and vodka.


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