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Black Inventor Miriam Benjamin


Miriam Benjamin, an African American inventor, is credited with inventing the "gong and signal chair" in 1888. This device was an early precursor to the modern doorbell system. Benjamin's invention allowed hotel patrons to summon waiters without having to shout or use physical means to get their attention. It consisted of a chair equipped with a signaling device, typically a button or lever, which, when activated by the seated patron, would alert the waiter or attendant via a gong or bell.



Benjamin's innovation was significant for its time, providing a more dignified and efficient means of service in public spaces. Despite facing challenges as an African American woman in the late 19th century, Benjamin's inventive spirit contributed to advancements in communication and convenience.


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