Black News and News Makers in History: Otis Boykin

African American news - Black News and News Makers in History recognizes Otis Boykin this week in Black history.Otis F. Boykin was born August 29, 1920 in Dallas, Texas. His father was a carpenter, his mother a homemaker. After graduating high school, he enrolled at Fisk College in Nashville, Tennessee in 1938, graduating in 1941.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree, he was employed as a laboratory assistant for the Majestic Radio and TV Corporation of Chicago, testing automatic controls for airplanes. After rising to the position of foreman, he left in 1944 to work as a research engineer at P.J. Nilsen Research Labs in Illinois.

Then he left to start his own company: Boykin-Fruth Inc. He managed to juggle the responsibility of opening his own business while attending the Illinois Institute of Technology.

From 1946, he pursued graduate studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology, but did not complete the master's program due to insufficient funds for tuition. Despite this, he went on to expand many fields of science through his inventions. For the next thirty-three years, Boykin contributed his expertise to the fields of chemistry and electronics as a consultant to a number of firms in Chicago as well as in Paris, France.

Boykin invented dozens of electronic and mechanical devices. He holds 28 patents with some inventions unpatented at the time of his death. Among his inventions are his variable resistor, used in guided missile parts, a control unit for heart stimulators (pacemakers), a burglar-proof cash register, and a chemical air filter to prevent toxins from entering the body.

Boykin's first patent was granted on June 16th, 1959. The patent was for the wire precision resistor. Boykin's wire precision resistor is now found in computers, radios, television sets, and other electronic devices. That invention helped to make all of the products less expensive.

His next invention was an electrical resistor, which he patented on February 21st, 1961.

What he is most famous for is inventing the pacemaker, a medical device made to regulate the heart beat, preventing heart failures due to a faulty electrical impulse. The pacemaker is made up of three parts: a silver dollar sized generator, wires that attach to the heart, and an electrode at the wire's tip. Inside the generator, a battery and a tiny computer to regulate the heartbeat. The battery lasts up to five years and sounds off an alarm when it needs to be replaced. The pacemaker keeps the heart beating through the use of electronic pulses. The electrode shocks the heart if it is beating too slowly and decelerates the heart when it is beating too quickly.

Another invention he is famous for is a circuit that is found in all guided missiles. Known as a polyphem missile, it possesses a range of 60 kilometers. It is able to hit it's targets by taking in pictures through an infra-red camera positioned in the nose of the missile. The images are then transmitted through fiber optic cables to its firing post. Once the images are analyzed they appear on the weapons operator's screen. The weapons operator then transmits instructions back to the missile, telling it where to go. The missiles have incredible accuracy in day or night, due to its infra-red camera, and can beset targets both mobile and non-mobile.

One missile type, known as the Tomahawk is able to fly through a football field hundreds of miles away, fly through both end's goal posts and detonate 30 feet away, on a good day. The missiles normally detonate in a15 foot radius of their unfortunate target. The Polyphem imager is mounted on a gyro-stabilized dual axis platform providing image sharpness for the processing system and operator display.

Boykin's innovations have had both military and commercial application. Some have reduced the cost of producing electronic controls for radio and television. At present more than three dozen products with Boykin components are used throughout the world.

Boykin's groundbreaking inventions led to the Cultural Science Achievement Award from the Old Pros Unlimited Club. His many achievements, most notably the pacemaker, made him one of the greatest inventors of his time.

He died of heart failure in Chicago in 1982.

Compiled from http://www.madehow.com/inventorbios/49/Otis-Boykin.html, http://inventors.about.com/od/bstartinventors/a/Otis_Boykin.htm, http://profiles.incredible-people.com/otis-f-boykin/ and http://www.sciencecontrol.com/otis-boykin-biography-1920%E2%80%931982.html