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Garrett Morgan
Garrett Morgan Garrett Morgan


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Morgan's technology was the basis for the modern-day traffic signal and was a significant contribution to development of what we now know as Intelligent Transportation Systems Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr was born in Paris, Kentucky on March 4, 1877 His parents were former slaves Morgan spent his early childhood attending school and working with his brothers and sisters on the family farm He left Kentucky while still a teenager, moving north to Cincinnati, Ohio in search of employment An industrious youth, Morgan spent most of his adolescence working as a handyman for a wealthy Cincinnati land-owner Similar to many African Americans of his generation, whose circumstances compelled them to begin working at an early age, Morgan's formal education ended after elementary school Eager to expand his knowledge, however, the precocious teenager hired a tutor and continued his studies in English grammar while living in Cincinnati In 1895, Morgan moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked as a sewing machine repairman for a clothing manufacturer.

Experimenting with gadgets and materials to discover better ways of performing his trade became Morgan's passion News of his proficiency for fixing things traveled fast and led to numerous job opportunities with various manufacturing firms throughout the Cleveland area Morgan opened his own sewing equipment and repair shop in 1907 It was the first of several businesses he would start In 1909, he expanded the enterprise to include a tailoring shop which retained 32 employees The new company made coats, suits, and dresses, all sewn with equipment the budding inventor had made himself In 1920 Morgan started the Cleveland Call newspaper As the years progressed, he became a prosperous and widely respected businessman His prosperity enabled him to purchase a home and an automobile Morgan's experiences driving through the streets of Cleveland are what led him to invent the nation's first patented three-position traffic signal.

The first American-made automobiles were introduced to US consumers shortly before the turn of the century Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903 and with it American consumers began to discover the What's Ahead of the open road At that time, it was not uncommon for bicycles, animal-powered carts and motor vehicles to share the same thoroughfares with pedestrians Accidents frequently occurred between the vehicles After witnessing a collision between an automobile and a horse-drawn carriage, Morgan was convinced that something should be done to improve traffic safety While other inventors are reported to have experimented and even marketed their own three-position traffic signals, Garrett A Morgan was the first to apply for and acquire a US.

patent for such a device The patent was granted on November 20, 1923 Morgan later had the technology patented in Great Britain and Canada as well Prior to Morgan's invention, most of the traffic signals in use featured only two-positions: Stop and Go Manually operated, these two-position traffic signals were an improvement over no signal at all, but because they allowed no interval between the Stop and Go commands, collisions at busy intersections were common during the transition moving from one street to the other Another problem with the two-position traffic signals was the susceptibility to human error Operator fatigue invariably resulted in erratic timing of the Stop and Go command changes, which confused both drivers and pedestrians At night, when traffic officers were off duty, motorists frequently ignored the signals altogether The Morgan traffic signal was a T-shaped pole unit that featured three positions: Stop, Go and an all-directional stop position The third position halted traffic in all directions before it allowed travel to resume on either of the intersection's perpendicular roads.

This feature not only made it safer for motorists to pass through intersections, but also allowed pedestrians to cross more safety At night, or at other times when traffic was minimal, the Morgan signal could be positioned in a half-mast posture, alerting approaching motorists to proceed through the intersection with caution The half-mast position had the same signaling effect as the flashing red and yellow lights of today's traffic signals Morgan's traffic management technology was used throughout North America until it was replaced by the red, yellow and green-light traffic signals currently used around the world The inventor eventually sold the rights to his traffic signal to the General Electric Corporation for $40,000 Shortly before his death in 1963, Morgan was awarded a citation for the traffic signal by the US Government Garrett Morgan was constantly experimenting with new ideas Though the traffic signal came at the height of his career and became one of his most renowned inventions, it was just one of several items he developed, manufactured, and sold over the years.

One day, while tinkering in his workshop, Morgan accidentally discovered that some of the chemicals used in his sewing machine repair business also relaxed the tight curl pattern of kinky hair To market his new discovery, he started the GA Morgan Hair Refining Company in 1913 Later, he created both a hair dying ointment and a curved-tooth pressing comb The new company manufactured and sold these items as well as the hair processing cream Morgan also invented a zig-zag stitching attachment for manually operated sewing machines and a self-extinguishing cigarette filter In 1912, Morgan received a patent on a Safety Hood and Smoke Protector Two years later, a refined model of this early gas mask won a gold medal at the International Exposition of Sanitation and Safety, and another gold medal from the International Association of Fire Chiefs.



 
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