Garrett Morgan, Inventor of the Improved Traffic Signal

African American inventor Garret Augustus Morgan invented an improved traffic light in 1923 (US1475024). He was born in Kentucky on March 4, 1877. He only received an elementary school education. He was a sewing machine mechanic.

In his patent application for an improved traffic signal, he highlighted three important benefits of his invention.

1.”This invention relates to traffic signals, and particularly to those which are adapted to be positioned adjacent the intersection of two or more streets and are manually operable for directing the flow of traffic.”

2. “The provision of a semaphore signal which is useful by night as well as by day and which is arranged to be easily and automatically operable by the traflic director.”

3.”My invention contemplates the provision1 of a signal which may be readily and cheaply manufactured.”

Mr. Morgan was a prolific inventor in his own right. He patented several other inventions including an improved sewing machine and a hair straightening product and a respiratory device that was later developed into the gas masks used in World War II. Mr. Morgan died on August 27, 1963.


Garrett Augustus Morgan 1877-1963

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