Garrett Morgan was always interested in inventions. His tailoring business was equipped with machines that he personally designed. During the 1910s and 1920s, Morgan continued to invent new items. Most of these items were to improve safety on the streets and in the workplace. Morgan was most famous for patenting the first traffic signal in the United States. Morgan, himself an automobile owner, witnessed a crash between a car and a buggy. This event supposedly convinced the inventor to create the stoplight. On November 20, 1923, Morgan received his patent. His traffic signal was mounted on a T-shaped pole. It had three different types of signals stop, go, and stop in all directions. The stop in all directions signal was to allow pedestrians to cross streets safely. Morgan eventually patented this device in Canada and Great Britain as well. He sold his patent to General Electric Corporation for forty thousand dollars.
Morgan also invented numerous other products. In 1916, he patented his version of the gas mask. Morgan demonstrated his superior design when a group of miners was trapped in a shaft under Lake Erie. He immediately received orders for his product from fire departments and mine owners across the United States and Europe. The United States Army also utilized a slightly redesigned Morgan gas mask during World War I. In addition to the traffic signal and the gas mask, Morgan also invented a zigzag stitching device for manually-operated sewing machines.
“If you can be the best, then why not try to be the best?”
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