Who Invented The First Traffic Signal?


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markeith jackson Profile
An African American named Garrett a Morgan invented the traffic light circa 1923
Daisy Sarma Profile
Daisy Sarma answered
There were many inventors who had built different versions of the traffic signal. Some of them had even patented their inventions. However, the American Department of Transportation considers Garrett A. Morgan as the authentic inventor of the first automatic traffic signal. In those early days of automobiles, there was no proper system of managing the flow of traffic, and there used to be frequent crashes as gasoline automobiles and carriages drawn by animals shared the same space and tried to outmaneuver each other. The story goes that Garrett Morgan was witness to one such accident and decided to work on a proper traffic signal.

He first patented his traffic signal with the US Government on 20 November 1923. Later he sold the patents to General Electric Company for a princely sum of $40,000. The difference between Garrett's signal and other signals in existence then was its simplicity and ease of manufacture. The initial version was a manual one, it had to be operated by hand. Later the automatic ones came about, and replaced these. The Department of Transportation considers Garrett's signal as a pioneering one. He even won a citation for his signal invention a while before his death in 1963. Garrett Morgan was also the name behind other such notable inventions as the gas mask, and roses a long way, from being the son of former slaves to one of the pioneers of important inventions in America.

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