Otis Boykin

8 August 2016

Otis Frank Boykin was born in 1920 in Dallas, Texas. His mother Sarah was a homemaker and his father Walter was a carpenter, who later became a minister. Otis Boykin attended Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, where he was the valedictorian, graduating in 1938. He attended Fisk University on a scholarship and worked as a laboratory assistant at the university’s nearby aerospace laboratory.

He then moved to Chicago, where he studied at Illinois Institute of Technology but dropped out after two years; some sources say it was because he could not afford his tuition, but he later told Julia Scott Reed of the Dallas morning News that he left for an employment opportunity and did not have time to return to finish his degree. He was discovered and mentored by Dr. Hal F. Fruth, an engineer and inventor with his own laboratory; Fruth and Boykin would collaborate on a number of research projects.

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Boykin, in his lifetime, ultimately invented more than 25 electronic devices.

One of his early inventions was an improved electrical resistor for computers, radios, televisions and an assortment of other electronic devices. Other notable inventions include a variable resistor used in guided missiles and small component thick-film resistors for computers. Boykin’s most famous invention was likely a control unit for the artificial heart pacemaker. The device essentially uses electrical impulses to maintain a regular heartbeat. Boykin himself died of a heart failure in Chicago in 1982. Boykin, who took a special interest in working with resistors, began researching and inventing on his own.

He sought and received a patent for a wire precision resistor on June 16, 1959. This resistor would later be used in radios and televisions. Two years later, he created a breakthrough device that could withstand extreme changes in temperature and pressure. The device, which was cheaper and more reliable than others on the market, came in great demand by the United States military for guided missles and IBM for computers. In 1964, Boykin moved to Paris, creating electronic innovations for a new market of customers. His most famous invention was a control unit for the pacemaker.

Ironically, Boykin died in Chicago in 1982 as a result of heart failure. Upon his death, he had 26 patents to his name. Not being able to finish college didn’t hinder Otis Boykin’s future, though. He went on to further his career, and his biggest accomplishments were inventing several devices. In fact, Otis Boykin invented twenty-eight electronic devices in all. If you visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and look up patent number 2,972,726, you’ll find Boykin’s first invention. Boykin received his first patent on June 16, 1959. It was for a wire precision resistor.

This resistor can be found in computers, radios, and television. Next, Boykin invented an electrical resistor. He received U. S. patent number 2,972,726 for it on February 21, 1961. Then, on June 22, 1965, Otis Boykin patented his electrical capacitor and the method for making the same. It is U. S. patent number 3,191,108. Over the next several years, Boykin went on to invent the electrical resistor element and the method for making the same; the method of making thin film capacitor; electrical resistance element and method of making the same; electrical resistance capacitor; thin film capacitor; and a self-supporting electrical resistor.

He also invented a burglar proof cash register and an air filter to protect humans from toxins. However, he never patented the latter two inventions. Probably the most important invention that Afro-American Otis Boykin invented and patented was the Pacemaker. The purpose of a pacemaker is to help keep a patient’s heart beating at a steady beat, or “pace”. It’s approximately the size of a silver dollar. It has a generator and wires running from it that are connectedto the heart. It also has an electrode at the end of the wire.

The electrode sends electrical impulses to the heart to either slow it down or speed it up. Inside the small generator is a lithium battery and a tiny computer. The computer is what regulates the patient’s heart beat. The lithium battery usually lasts for about three years before it needs to be replaced. When it does need replaced, the existing generator is removed and replaced with a new one. Of course, the purpose of the Pacemaker is to help prevent heart failure. Ironically, Otis Boykin died in 1982 in Chicago, Illinois… of heart failure.

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