This month, on our facebook and twitter pages, we’ll be celebrating the birthdays of a video game designer, two of the first black chemistry doctorates, a rocket scientist, one of the most prolific inventors of the 19th century, and one of the finest mathematical minds of all time.
Gamers everywhere owe a tip of the hat to electronic engineer Gerald “Jerry” Lawson (April 9). A video game pioneer, he had a hand in the development of two classic consoles–the Fairchild Channel F and the Atari 2600.
Percy Julian (April 11), a pioneer of industrial scale hormone synthesis, was the first black chemist elected to the National Academy of Sciences. A Montgomery, Alabama native, Dr. Julian enjoyed a storied career that included teaching stints at Fisk University and Howard University.
In 1947, Marie Maynard Daly (April 16) became the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry. She completed her doctorate at Columbia University in just three years, and went on to teach at Howard and at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Annie Easley (April 23), an accomplished computer scientist, helped design NASA’s Centaur rocket stage, used to boost satellites and space probes beyond low Earth orbit.
Granville Woods (April 23), sometimes called the “Black Edison,” received more than 50 patents in his career. Among his inventions were the telegraphone (a combination telegraph and telephone), an automatic brake, and a railway telegraph that allowed train stations to communicate with moving trains.
David Blackwell (April 24), codeveloper of the Rao-Blackwell theorem in statistics, was the first African American elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He taught at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Clark College in Atlanta, and Howard University in Washington DC before becoming the first black tenured faculty member at UC Berkeley.