Born in 1920 in Dallas, Texas, Otis Boykin attended Fisk University and Illinois Institute of Technology, where he started his career as a laboratory assistant testing automatic controls for aircraft. He then directed his efforts toward inventing, ultimately developing more than 25 electronic devices.
One of his early inventions was an improved electrical resistor for computers, radios, televisions and an assortment of other electronic devices. Other notable inventions include a variable resistor used in guided missiles and small component thick-film resistors for computers. These innovations in resistor design contributed to significant cost reductions in electronic components for both military and commercial applications.
Thirty seven derivative products from these inventions have been manufactured in Paris and distributed throughout Western Europe. From 1964, Boykin worked as a consultant to several American and European firms.
Boykin's most outstanding invention was the control unit for the pacemaker—the device uses electrical impulses to maintain a steady heartbeat. In an ironic twist of fate, Otis Boykin died of heart failure in 1982.
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Outward Dreams: Black Inventors and Their Inventions, Jim Haskins. Walker & Co., 1991.
World of Invention, 2nd edition, Kimberley A. McGrath, Bridget E. Travers (eds.) Gale Group, 1998.
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