All That’s Black: James West

James West, innovator:

“My father introduced me to three black men who had earned doctorates in chemistry and physics. The best jobs they could find were at the post office. My father said I was taking the long road toward working at the post office.”

With over 250 patents to his name, James West is perhaps one of the most prolific inventors of all time, but he is perhaps most famous for his work with the microphone.

In 1960, in conjunction with fellow inventor Gerhard Sessler, West began to work on developing an inexpensive, compact, highly sensitive microphone. In 1962, the microphone was complete, and by 1968 the “electret” microphone was in mass production. Today, 90 percent of all microphones, including the ones found in phones, recording devices,- baby monitors and hearing aids, use this technology.

So the next time you “mic drop”, give James West a shoutout before the mic leaves your hand.

By Aprille’ Morris & Emily Burke

Edited By Keshav Kant

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Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a med student tuned Executive Director of Off Colour!

You’ve probably seen her on Twitter and TikTok, both @MxKantEven, or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels.

From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.

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