Insights > Granville T. Woods’ Inventions Power Life Still Today
Granville T. Woods’ Inventions Power Life Still Today
Does the name Granville T. Woods ring a bell? Maybe a telephone? Woods was an African-American inventor who made important improvements to the telephone, street car and much more. Born in Columbus, Ohio, on April 23, 1856, Woods’ groundbreaking inventions changed how we live today.
Referred by some as the "Black Edison," the storied inventor registered nearly 60 patents in his lifetime. In fact, Woods successfully defended his patent for the induction telegraph system against a lawsuit from Thomas Edison.
Woods held various engineering and industrial jobs before establishing a company to develop electrical apparatus.
He filed his first patent for an improved steam boiler furnace.
His second invention, an improved telephone transmitter, combined the telephone and telegraph. It was louder and clearer even from long distances. Alexander Graham Bell bought the patent for this device, and this purchase launched a new phase of Woods’ career as an inventor.
A Streetcar Named Innovation
Bell’s handsome payment gave the Ohio native the freedom to devote himself to his own research. This included the “troller,” a grooved metal wheel that allowed street cars (later known as "trolleys") to collect electric power from overhead wires.
He also developed the idea for an induction telegraph system, so that trains could avoid accidents by informing each other of their locations.
Then there was his contribution to a metaphor of the same name. Woods developed the concept of a “third rail,” which is still used on subway train platforms in major cities across the country.
Back to the Future
Woods died in 1910. His inventive ideas not only advanced the telecommunications and transportation industries but also transformed our daily lives.
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