At Esurance, we love technology. Mobile apps, online repair monitoring, Twitter, Facebook — we just can’t get enough. So what better way to celebrate Black History Month than by honoring 2 African-American inventors whose technological innovations helped shape our modern world?

Garrett Augustus Morgan Sr.

Ever thanked a stoplight for saving your life? Then you owe one to Garrett Augustus Morgan Sr. for this ingenious device. While he didn’t invent the very first traffic signal — which consisted of manually operated “Stop” and “Go” signs — his version did offer a significant improvement: an intermediary stage that stopped traffic in all directions.

This lessened the potential for those mid-intersection accidents that were so common with the older signs (which left no interval between “Stop” and “Go” for cars to slow down). With the all-stop signal added, cars were less likely to get hit by cross traffic.

While Morgan’s invention was eventually surpassed by the current red-yellow-green system, his invention did a lot to save lives in its time. In fact, a Federal Highway Administration education program bears his name to this day: the Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Education Program.

To learn more about traffic lights and the vital role they play in keeping our roads safe, check out our article on right-of-way laws.

Fred Jones

Born May 17, 1893, in Covington, Kentucky, Fred Jones’ adventurous life would take him from working in an auto repair shop to becoming a class-A racer and world-class inventor. Over the course of his career, he created revolutionary products in a number of industries, including cinema, medicine, and, most importantly perhaps, shipping.

In fact, if you’ve ever purchased a Mexican mango, a Florida orange, or a Kobe steak in your local supermarket, you’ve got Fred Jones to thank. Why?

Because Jones invented the refrigeration units now used in shipping trucks, trains, boats, and ships. In fact, without the technology to ship perishable goods cross-country (or even internationally), the very concept of the supermarket would’ve been impossible.

These two inventors helped save lives and make everything we take for granted daily that much better. Quite the contribution.



Smart technology | Around the nation


about John

John Moore Williams has spent his writing career providing advice on everything from proper septic system care to where to eat in Nice (and, during his tenure at Esurance, how to find the right insurance coverages). An avid descriptive grammarian, he encourages you to end sentences with prepositions and to split infinitives whenever possible.