Black History Month: Otis Boykin

Otis F. Boykin was born on August 29, 1920, in Dallas, Texas. His mother was a housewife and his father was a carpenter. Boykin graduated from high school, and then he attended Fisk College in Nashville, Tennessee in 1938. After he graduated from college in 1941, Boykin got a job as a laboratory assistant at the Majestic Radio & TV Corporation in Chicago. Otis Boykin did well at his job of testing automatic aircraft controls, and he soon made it to the rank of supervisor.

In 1944, Boykin left Majestic and he went to work at the P.J. Nilsen Research Labs in Illinois. He was a research engineer there.

Finally, he left the Research Labs and ventured out on his own and founded his own company. He named it “Boykin-Fruth Incorporated.” Boykin also continued his education at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Working at his company and going to school was difficult, but Boykin managed to handle his busy schedule. Unfortunately, after two years, he couldn’t afford to attend college anymore, so he was forced to drop out before his studies were finished.

Not being able to finish college didn’t hinder Otis Boykin’s future, though. He went on to further his career, and his biggest accomplishments were inventing several devices. In fact, Otis Boykin invented twenty-eight electronic devices in all.

If you visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and look up patent number 2,972,726, you’ll find Boykin’s first invention. Boykin received his first patent on June 16, 1959. It was for a wire precision resistor. This resistor can be found in computers, radios, and televisions.

Next, Boykin invented an electrical resistor. He received U.S. patent number 2,972,726 for it on February 21, 1961. Then, on June 22, 1965, Otis Boykin patented his electrical capacitor and the method for making the same. It is U.S. patent number 3,191,108.

Over the next several years, Boykin went on to invent the electrical resistor element and the method for making the same; the method of making thin film capacitor; electrical resistance element and method of making the same; electrical resistance capacitor; thin film capacitor; and a self-supporting electrical resistor. He also invented a burglar proof cash register and an air filter to protect humans from toxins. However, he never patented the latter two inventions.

Probably the most important invention that Afro-American Otis Boykin invented and patented was the Pacemaker. The purpose of a pacemaker is to help keep a patient’s heart beating at a steady beat, or “pace”. It’s approximately the size of a silver dollar. It has a generator and wires running from it that are connected to the heart. It also has an electrode at the end of the wire. The electrode sends electrical impulses to the heart to either slow it down or speed it up.

Inside the small generator is a lithium battery and a tiny computer. The computer is what regulates the patient’s heart beat.

The lithium battery usually lasts for about three years before it needs to be replaced. When it does need replaced, the existing generator is removed and replaced with a new one.

Of course, the purpose of the Pacemaker is to help prevent heart failure. Ironically, Otis Boykin died in 1982 in Chicago, Illinois… of heart failure.

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