As we all know, the internet is an integral part of our lives. But what's less known are the contributions made in this space by Black inventors and scientists. In celebration of Black History Month, we are shedding light on four Black pioneers who shaped the way we have utilized and enjoyed the internet throughout the decades.

Dr. James Edward West

To kick us off, we have the man responsible for all of our accidental muted moments on Zoom: Dr. James Edward West. Dr. West's 1962 foil electret microphone revolutionized the way 90% of microphones are produced in practically every product, from computers and cell phones, to hearing aids and baby monitors!

Marian R. Croak

If it weren’t for the work of our next Black internet pioneer, life during the pandemic would’ve been a nightmare. Marian R. Croak, Vice President of Engineering at Google, opened up the possibility of simultaneous live audio and video sharing on the Internet with the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). So in your next Zoom meeting or impromptu FaceTime session, don’t forget to thank the MVP of VoIP.

Dr. Mark Dean

Next up we have a Black-pioneered invention from the 80s that broke the internet. You know that sleek, lightweight monitor you use to work from home and game late at night? Its creation relies on patents established by Dr. Mark Dean, the chief engineer of the team that designed the original IBM personal computer (PC). Owning a third of the PC patents, Dr. Dean’s work not only broke racial barriers but laid the groundwork for the desktop design that we all know and love.

Dr. Philip Emeagwali

Last but not least, we have Dr. Philip Emeagwali. Whether you’re asking Alexa if it’ll rain or consulting an app to figure out which coat to wear, it’s likely your weather forecast is powered by Dr. Philip Emeagwali’s 1989 invention. Known as the Bill Gates of Africa, Dr. Emeagwali invented the world’s fastest computer (we’re talking 3.1 billion calculations per second fast) based on his studies of bees. His supercomputer continues to be used today to forecast the weather and predict the likelihood and effects of global warming.

If it weren’t for the innovation and courage of these Black inventors and others, a minority-founded internet company like ours would not exist today. In this month and every month, we honor them as part of our history as we continue our work for more people in more places to benefit from their contributions.



See if Starry is in your building