The Three-Light Traffic Light, Invented by Garrett Morgan in 1923
You may have never heard of him, but he invented one of the best safety devices in history — Garret Morgan, born in Kentucky to former slaves and moved to Ohio when he was 14 for work. Morgan noted for improving several significant inventions, such as the sewing machine, and the gas mask. But Morgan’s most famous designs to date the new and improved traffic light. Without his innovation, drivers across the nation would be directed by a two-light system.
On November 20, 1923, the U.S. Patent Office granted Patent No. 1,475,074 to 46-year-old inventor and newspaperman Garrett Morgan for his three-position traffic signal. By having a third position besides “Stop” and “Go,” it regulated crossing vehicles more safely than earlier two-light traffic signals. In 1907, he opened a repair shop, and in 1909 he added a garment shop to his operation. The business was an enormous success, and by 1920 Morgan had made enough money to start a newspaper, the Cleveland Call, which became one of the most influential black publications in the nation, according to History.com.