CTIA Celebrates Innovators in Honor of Black History Month
February marks Black History Month, a time to celebrate the achievements of African Americans throughout history. Here at CTIA, we wanted to take a moment to honor some of the important contributions African American inventors have made to the wireless industry.
African American impact on telecommunications is documented as early as 1876, when Lewis Latimer—a draftsman, inventor, and author—worked closely with Alexander Graham Bell to patent the telephone.
Most of the microphones used in cellphones today can be credited to James Edward West, who with Gerhard M. Sessler, created the Electroacoustic Transducer/Electret Microphone. These compact and cost effective microphones were patented in 1964—West has gone on to patent more than 40 inventions in the U.S. and many more internationally, mostly related to electrical engineering and acoustics.
From left to right: Lewis Latimer, James Edward West, Henry Sampson, Jesse E. Russell
Henry Sampson is another groundbreaking innovator in the wireless industry. Henry patented the Gamma-Electric cell in the 1970s, which made it possible to wirelessly send and receive audio signals through radio waves, and without which we would not have the cellphone we know and love today.
Jesse E. Russell has played a fundamental role in the invention of the modern cell phone, patenting dozens of innovations, including the base station technology that transmits radio wave signals to and from mobile devices. He was Chief Wireless Architect at AT&T for many years and continues to innovate in the field today.
Wireless would not be the thriving industry we know it as if it weren’t for these innovators. We are thankful for their vision and contributions to American connectivity and communications today and every day.