electrical engineering Tag

Black is Beautiful 2022 – Jerry Lawson


    Jerry Lawson was born in 1940 in Brooklyn and grew up in Queens NY. He developed a love for science and technology early on and by his early teens was repairing televisions and building his own Ham radio (long distance, home made). He was encouraged by his parents to pursue his passion and he nurtured that passion into a career in electrical engineering. He moved from NYC to the bay Area and was hired at Fairchild Semiconductor in San Francisco. While living in the Silicon Valley he built a coin operated arcade game in his garage. His employer found out and put him in charge of a project that would revolutionize the gaming industry. Before Lawson video games existed like Pong., but you could only play one game. With a team of folks he invented and developed the “Channel F” which allowed you to play multiple games; storing the software on inter changeable cartridges using microprocessors. The Channel F didn’t do so well financially and was eclipsed by Atari, but his invention changed the game. He was a trailblazer for Black folks in the gaming industry and stem. And he was a pioneer for the industry as a whole. I first heard of him in 2019 through Xbox engineer Cierra McDonald and I hope more young people of all backgrounds get to know his story!

Sources: Microsoft, High Score Documentary, Anderson and Karen Lawson
Check out this piece about Uncle Jamm’s Army from last year.

Who is She? 32- Jessica O. Matthews

Jessica Matthews is inventing new ways to make use of everyday happiness to produce energy. Jessica is from Poughkeepsie New York. Her parents are Nigerian and she is a dual citizen in the US and Nigeria. She is a graduate of Harvard and is an inventor. I found Jessica through Blavity’s “Afro-Tech” conference which highlighted Black folks doing amazing things in the tech world. While in school, Jessica used some of her course work and projects to create a project that would be inspired by her many visits to family in Nigeria. Millions of people live without regular electricity, something I take for granted. They use kerosene lamps and gasoline powered generators. Jessica found a way to use a soccer ball to generate electricity. After many prototypes she invented a soccer ball called “Soccket” that when played with generates and stores electricity that can later be used with lights, cell phones, radios, etc. Since the invention, she taught herself some things about electrical engineering and she co-founded a company called “Un-charted Play” that re-envisions everyday objects like a luggage wheel, jumprope, pants (rubbing together), and the soccket to create electricity. Jessica has been featured in various publications and invited to many places such as Forbes, The White House, the Harvard Foundation, and Black Enterprise.
Sources: Blavity/Afro Tech, The Aspen Institute, UnchartedPlay.com