Today's Articles

People, Locations, Episodes

Wed, 04.23.1856

Granville T. Woods, Inventor born

GranvilleT. Woods

On this date in 1856, Granville T. Woods was born in Columbus, Ohio. He was a Black businessman and inventor.

Woods began work in a machine shop at age ten. Though largely self-taught, he studied electrical and mechanical engineering from 1876 to 1878. After that he worked on a British steamer, then became an engineer on a railroad based in Cincinnati, where he settled around 1880. Woods received his first patent in 1884 for a steam boiler furnace. In 1885 he invented a system called telegraphony, which allowed telegraph lines to carry voice signals.

In October 1887 he patented the induction telegraph for sending messages to and from moving trains. Other inventions for electric railways included electromechanical and electromagnetic brakes, a wheeled trolley for drawing power for streetcars from an overhead wires and a safety cutout to prevent injury from accidental contact with overhead wires. For a while he manufactured and sold his inventions through the Woods Electric Company, but he later sold his patent rights to the General Electric Company.

In 1890 Woods moved to New York City. In collaboration with his brother Lyates he patented emergency braking systems and devices relating to third-rail power. During his prolific career, Woods received 35 patents for inventions that contributed to the development of the transportation and communication industries.

In 1893, Woods received a patent for an electric railway conduit and in 1902, he received a patent for an automatic brake system. As a Black inventor, however, he had difficulty in marketing his inventions and sold them instead to well-financed corporations, such as General Electric and American Bell Telephone. Woods spent the last years of his life in virtual poverty as he battled in court for control of his inventions.

To become a Mechanical engineer


Ohio History

Created Equal The Lives and Ideas of Black American Innovators
By James Michael Brodie
Copyright 1993, by Bill Adler Books, Inc.
William Morrow and Co. Inc., New York
ISBN 0-688-11536-5

New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

The Harlem Advocate fell between his legs. The story was incredible! Taking off his glasses, Uncle Rufus rubbed the lenses and thought…though. Yes, his son had always been a prodigal son, Drinking home brew... UNCLE RUFUS by Melvin B. Tolson.
Read More