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Black History Month: Pioneers in the Wireless Industry

February marks Black History Month, a time to remember and celebrate African Americans throughout history. Here at G Squared Wireless, we wanted to take a moment to honor some of the important contributions African American inventors have made to the wireless industry.

African American impact on telecommunications is documented as early as the late 1800s, when a draftsman, inventor, and author named Lewis Latimer, worked closely with Alexander Graham Bell to patent the telephone. Later, Latimer received a patent for the “Process of Manufacturing Carbons” while working with Thomas Edison.

Most of the microphones used in mobile phones today can be credited to James Edward West. Along with Gerhard M. Sessler, West created the Electroacoustic Transducer/Electret Microphone. These compact and cost-effective microphones were patented in 1964. West holds over 250 U.S. and foreign patents for the production and design of microphones and techniques for creating polymer foil electrets.

Henry Sampson is another groundbreaking innovator in the wireless industry. On July 6, 1971, Sampson was awarded a patent with George H. Miley for the invention of the gamma-electric cell, a direct-conversion energy device that converts the energy generated from the radiation of high-energy gamma rays into electricity. This made it possible to wirelessly send and receive audio signals through radio waves. Without this technology, we would not have the mobile cell phone we know and love today.

Jesse E. Russell (A Nashville Native) is a pioneer in the field of cellular and wireless communications. In 1988, he led the first team from Bell Laboratories to introduce digital cellular technology in the United States. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee State University. Russell became the first African American to be hired directly from a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) by AT&T Bell Laboratories. The following year, he completed his master’s in electrical engineering at Stanford University. He was Chief Wireless Architect at AT&T for many years and continues to innovate in the field today.

Wireless would not be the thriving industry we know today if it weren’t for these innovators. Our G2 family is thankful for their vision and contributions to American connectivity and communications.

- Credit: Purdue University, The History Makers, Wikipedia

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