Where Would We Be?

"Black History Month"

Black Tech History

During February we get to look back and ask ourselves “where would we be without Black history?” And honestly, the answer is we’re not entirely sure. Because Black history is Speck history. The Black inventors who pushed beyond technological limits to create entirely new worlds of possibility, who defied current logic and created something totally mind-blowing, are a significant reason Speck exists today. Take the invention of the cell phone for instance, that’s mostly thanks to Black inventors.  

Of course, we should start with the godfather of cellular and wireless communications, Jesse Russell. Russell was working as an engineer at Bell Laboratories in 1998 when he created the concept for the wireless digital phone and communication and the digital cellular base station. At the time, mobile phones were mainly IN vehicles, so Russell designed the modern cell phone that could transmit signals between handsets and cell phone towers. His work allowed for “Mobile Cloud Computing” which Russell continued to innovate in the emerging next-gen broadband wireless communications or 4G. So, next time you take a call wherever, and whenever? Thank Jesse Russell for his vision and thank Dr. James West for his voice.

Jesse Russell, engineer at Bell Laboratories

Jesse Russell, engineer at Bell Laboratories

Dr. James West is a professor and inventor, who in 1962 developed the electret transducer technology that is used in 90% of contemporary microphones today. That’s your phone’s microphone, your laptop’s microphone, earbud microphone’s, etc. you get it. That’s a lot of microphones that allow you to communicate with other people every day. Or record yourself doing really weird stuff. Either way, Dr. James West is the reason you get to capture sound on your momentary lapse in judgment, but who’s responsible for color?

Professor and inventor Dr. James West

Professor and inventor Dr. James West

Ever heard of Dr. Mark E. Dean? He’s just the man who co-invented the color IBM personal computer released in 1981. Before that every pixel was left behind in the drab and stark world of black and white, like Dorothy before she got to Oz. Every meme, every gif, would have no nuance, no depth! But, most importantly, people who train with artificial intelligence are learning on something that looks incredibly real and tangible. Of course, the color monitor has evolved since its conception, becoming a tool that can create fantastical worlds on a whim.

Co-inventor of the color IBM personal computer, Dr. Mark E. Dean

Co-inventor of the color IBM personal computer, Dr. Mark E. Dean

That brings us here. To our realization. Without these amazing inventors providing top notch tech at the exact right time, would we be here? Would we be as advanced in tech as we are today? Would we have all the modern comforts we’re so used to? Here's to knowing we’ll never find out. So, celebrate Black History month with us, because we simply cannot tell our story of tech evolution without telling theirs.  

  • 2023
  • african american
  • black history
  • cell phone
  • color monitor
  • history
  • inventor
  • microphone
  • smartphone
  • tech

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