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Granville Woods

The magnitude of an inventors work can often be defined by the esteem in which he is held by fellow inventors. If this is the case, then Granville Woods was certainly a respected inventor as he was often referred to as the “Black Thomas Edison.”

Granville Woods was born on April 23, 1856 in Columbus, Ohio. He spent his early years attending school until the age of 10 at which point he began working in a machine shop repairing railroad equipment and machinery. Intrigued by the electricity that powered the machinery, Woods studied other machine workers as they attended to different pieces of equipment and paid other workers to sit down and explain electrical concepts to him. Over the next few years, Woods moved around the country working on railroads and in steel rolling mills. This experience helped to prepare him for a formal education studying engineering (surprisingly, it is unknown exactly where he attended school but it is believed it was an eastern college.)

After two years of studying, Woods obtained a job as an engineer on a British steamship called the Ironsides. Two years later he obtained employment with D & S Railroads, driving a steam locomotive. Unfortunately, despite his high aptitude and valuable education and expertise, Woods was denied opportunities and promotions because of the color of his skin. Out of frustration and a desire to promote his abilities, Woods, along with his brother Lyates, formed the Woods Railway Telegraph Company in 1884. The company manufactured and sold telephone, telegraph and electrical equipment. One of the early inventions from the company was an improved steam boiler furnace and this was followed up by an improved telephone transmitter which had superior clarity of sound and could provide for longer range of distance for transmission.

In 1885, Woods patented a apparatus which was a combination of a telephone and a telegraph. The device, which he called “telegraphony,” would allow a

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