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Otis Boykin was an inventor responsible for many important electrical devices that are used in modern times, most notably the electrical resistor. On this day in 1961, an improved version of Boykin’s electrical resistor was published and caught the attention of the military and one of America’s top computer companies.

Boykin was born August 29, 1920 in Dallas, Texas. The Fisk University graduate spent two years at the Illinois Institute of Technology, leaving early to pursue work. One of his more than two dozen inventions was a wire resistor, which is used in devices to control the flow of currents and power distribution. In 1959, one of his resistors made was patented and produced by companies.

In the mid ’50’s, Boykin continued tinkering with the resistor, which culminated in a much improved version of the invention. This new resistor was used by IBM in some of their computers and the military branches used the new design in some of its guided missiles.

Aside from the resistor, Boykin’s most notable invention might be circuit improvements made to the pacemaker. In some accounts, it was said that Boykin was moved to work on the device after losing his mother to heart failure.

By the time of his death in 1982 from heart failure, Boykin had presented several inventions, including a burglar-proof cash register and a chemical air filter. Varying reports say he held between 26 to 28 patents.

PHOTO: Public Domain

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Little Known Black History Fact: Otis Boykin  was originally published on