Can you imagine getting around town in horse and buggy in today’s day and age? It would take a lot longer to get across town for a simple household errand. The street car has always been a treasured invention. We all have somewhere to go and we want to get there in a quick an safe manner, with the street car we can do just that.

We at the Top SEO blog are dedicated to providing you the latest information on SEO and digital marketing, as well as the latest tech news but we also believe that it is important for all of us to know the history and origins of the technology that we all use on a daily basis, so we are starting a new series that we will call “The Modern Inventor”, each week we will write an article about an inventor who in some small way helped to influence the world in which we all live today.  If you have an inventor who you would like us to write about please leave a comment below and we will do our best to write about them in the next article.

Granville T. Woods

Granville T. Woods – Inventor of the Street Car via wikimedia

Granville T. Woods is an African-American Inventor who was best known for the contributions he made to the development of the street car and the telephone. He was born on April 23, 1856 to his family in Columbus, Ohio. He did not receive very much formal schooling and as was typical during that era he worked several odd jobs in his early teen years. He did several different types of jobs which include working in a railroad machine shop, a steel mill, a railroad engineer and as an engineer on a British ship.

In approximately 1876 he took some courses pertaining to electricity and he felt like electricity was one key to the future. By 1881 he had settled back in Cincinnati, Ohio and eventually set up his own company. His company developed, manufactured and sold electrical apparatus.

Woods’ First Invention

The very first invention that was conceived by Granville Woods was an improvement to the steam boiler furnace. Most of his later patents were for various electrical devices like his second invention which was an improved telephone transmitter. He owned the patent on this device which was a combination of the telephone and the telegraph. However, this patented idea was purchased by Alexander Graham Bell. Once he sold the invention he felt like he could more easily devote himself to his own research and inventions. One invention that was one of his most important ones was called a “troller.” This was a grooved metal wheel which allowed street cars to gain electrical power from wires that were overhead. These street cars soon became known as “trolleys.”

Woods’ Most Important Invention

It is thought that the multiplex telegraph he invented somewhere around 1887 was perhaps his most important invention. This device was also called the induction telegraph; and some called it the block system. Thomas Edison filed a law suit to challenge Granville’s patent but Edison lost the suit. Once he lost the legal battle,Edison offered to make Granville a partner but he declined. After winning the challenge by Thomas Edison, Granville became known as the “black Edison.”

The Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph was basically designed for use by the railway system. It was a means for them to communicate with each other and avoid possible railway accidents. Trains could communicate with the railway stations.  A moving train could notify the station or other trains of their location. Then the dispatcher could notify other trains of any moving trains. Before this invention there were many moving train accidents. This invention saved many lives by averting many accidents; it also helped make train movement much faster. This was a great precursor to some of the communication devices that are so common today.

Once he obtained and secured the patent for the multiplex telegraph he took some time to reorganize his company. Situated inCincinnati, the company became known as the Woods Electric Company.  In 1890 he chose to move his research operations toNew York City. Once he was located inNew York, his brother, Lyates Woods joined him. Lyates had several of his own inventions.

Patents by Granville T. Woods

In 1901, Granville Woods invented one of his most important devices which was a power pick-up device. This was to become the “third rail” that is used by transit systems which are operated by electric power. Between 1902 and 1905 he was able to patent his ideas on a much improved air brake system. By the time he passed away on January 30, 1919, Granville Woods had somewhere around 60 patents. Most of these were assigned to many of the major manufacturers who create electrical equipment that are used every day.