Archive for July, 2011

David Blackwell, Mathematician, Author and Game Theorist (1919)

July 30, 2011 Leave a comment

David Harold Blackwell (April 24, 1919–July 8, 2010), a mathematician, author and game theorist, entered the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at age 16 and was awarded a Ph.D. in Mathematics at age 22.

Also of note:

  • Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao and David Blackwell formulated what has come to be known as the Rao–Blackwell Theorem in Statistics
  • in 1965, he was the first African-American inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, an honor society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research for the furtherance of science and technology for humanity
  • he was the first black tenured faculty member at University of California, Berkeley
  • he authored the textbook Basic Statistics, which was published in 1969
  • he was awarded the John von Neumann Theory Prize in 1979
  • in 2002, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California, and Cornell University established the Blackwell-Tapia Award in honor of David Blackwell and Richard A. Tapia, distinguished mathematical scientists who have been inspirations to more than a generation of African-American and Hispanic-American students and professionals in the mathematical sciences1
  • Lastly, the following quote has been attributed to David Blackwell:

I’ve worked in so many areas—I’m sort of a dilettante. Basically, I’m not interested in doing research and I never have been. I’m interested in understanding, which is quite a different thing. And often to understand something you have to work it out yourself because no one else has done it.2

External Links:

  1. David Blackwell (Bellevue College)
  2. Arlie Petters receives first Blackwell-Tapia Prize

Quoted References:

  1. Who Are The Greatest Black Mathematicians?
  2. David Blackwell @ Wikipedia

Further References:

  1. Rao-Blackwell Theorem @ Scholarpedia
  2. National Academy of Sciences:  About the NAS

Alice H. Parker, Inventor (?)

July 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Alice H. Parker is, indeed, a rare find. Not much biographical information was found on the Internet about her. Her biography is sometimes confused with that of another Alice Parker, a composer, arranger and conductor.

Alice Parker–the African-American inventor, that is–patented a gas-powered central heating furnace on December 23, 1919 (U.S. Patent 1,325,905).

External Links:

  1. Alice H. Parker – True African American Heat (Parle Magazine)
  2. Alice Parker History Beat: Now You Know (
  3. Alice Parker (


  1. African-American Bibliography – Science & Medicine (University of Pennsylvania)
  2. 2/21/03 Black History Month Special Report, Part III (UAW-Chrysler)
Categories: Female, N-Z Tags: ,

Marie Van Brittan Brown, Inventor (1922)

July 4, 2011 2 comments

At the time of this writing, not much biographical information could be gathered about Marie Van Brittan Brown (October 30, 1922-February 2, 1999)1, unfortunately. Notwithstanding, she has been credited for:

  • inventing, with her partner, Albert Brown,2 the “home security system utilizing television surveillance,”3 (the forerunner to the modern home security system)
  • receiving United States Patent No. 3482037 in 1969 for the invention4

External Links:

  1. Marie Van Brittan Brown: Home Security Inventions
  2. African-American Inventors & Inventions: African Women Inventors
  3. The Significance of the Burglar Alarm |
  5. Marie Van Brittan Brown @ Wikipedia
  6. US Black Engineer & IT – Google Books (Google Books search)
  7. Black Inventions In Daily Life by Matt Montague (US Black Engineer & IT)


  1. Marie Van Brittan Brown @ Wikipedia
  2. Marie Van Brittan Brown: Home Security Inventions
  4. ibid.
  5. African-American Inventors & Inventions: African Women Inventors
  6. The Significance of the Burglar Alarm |