Gas Mask - Garret Morgan
Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. (March 4, 1877 – July 27, 1963) was an African American inventor and businessman as well as an influential political leader. His most notable inventions were the three position traffic signal and smoke hood. Morgan also discovered and developed a chemical hair-processing and straightening solution. He created a successful company based on his hair product inventions along with a complete line of hair-care products.
Most of his teenage years were spent working as a handyman for a Cincinnati landowner. Like many American children growing up in the turn of the century, Morgan had to quit school at a young age in order to work full-time. Morgan was able to hire a tutor and continue his studies while working in Cincinnati. In 1895, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he began repairing sewing machines for a clothing manufacturer. This experience with repairing sewing machine was the impetus for Morgan's interest in how things worked. His first invention, developed during this period, was a belt fastener for sewing machines.Throughout this period of time, before his first patent in 1912, he was slowly building his reputation in Cleveland for his skill at fixing things.
In 1907, Morgan with nearly a decade of experience with sewing machines, finally opened up his own sewing machine. In 1908, Morgan became more conscious of his heritage and helped found the Cleveland Association of Colored Men. In 1909, he and his wife Mary Anne expanded their business ventures by opening a shop called Morgan's Cut Rate Ladies Clothing Store.The shop had 32 employees, and made coats, suits, dresses, and other clothing. Around 1910 his interest in repairing other people's inventions waned, and he became interested in developing some of his own.
He was the subject of a newspaper feature in Cleveland Ohio, Ohio, for a heroic rescue in 1916 of workers trapped within a water intake tunnel, 50 ft (15 m) beneath Lake Erie. He performed his rescue using a hood fashioned to protect his eyes from smoke and featuring a series of air tubes that hung near the ground to draw clean air beneath the rising smoke. This enabled Morgan to lengthen his ability to endure the inhospitable conditions of a smoke-filled room. Morgan is also credited as the first African American in Cleveland to own an automobile.
The smoke hood was completed circa 1912. He received his patent for it that year as well. The successful invention of the smoke hood precipitated the launch of the National Safety Device Company in 1914. It is unknown if the smoke hood brought him any commercial success. No sales figures have been found but his use of guerrilla marketing, going to different venues and demonstrating his smoke hood by strapping it on and entering a smoke filled tee pee, certainly demonstrated his faith in his own invention. In 1913 he incorporated hair care products into his growing list of patents and launched the G. A. Morgan Hair Refining Company, which sold hair care products, including his patented hair straightening cream, a hair coloring, and a hair straightening comb invented by Morgan.
Later in life he developed glaucoma and by 1943 was functionally blind. He had poor health the rest of his life,but continued to work on his inventions. One of his last was a self-extinguishing cigarette, which used a small plastic pellet filled with water placed just before the filter. He died on July 27, 1963 age 86 and is buried at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.