Granville Woods

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Granville T. Woods (April 23, 1856 - January 30, 1910), born in Columbus, Ohio, was an African-American inventor. He attended school until the age of 10 to begin working as an apprentice in a machine shop repairing railroad equipment and machinery. In 1872, he obtained a job as a fireman on the Danville and Southern Railroad in Missouri, and he eventually became an engineer. In 1874 Woods moved to Springfield, Illinois where he worked in a steel rolling mill. Woods invented fifteen devices for electric railways, including the third rail, and received his first patent in 1884 for an improved steam boiler furnace (U.S. 229,854). In 1887, he patented a telegraph system for communicating with moving trains, which he called the Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph.

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