Otis Frank Boykin was an African-American inventor and engineer. Boykin is credited with patenting twenty-eight electronic devices and inventing an improved electrical resistor model that is still used today in televisions, computers and radios. Boykin’s most famous invention was a control unit for the artificial heart pacemaker. The device essentially uses electrical impulses to maintain a regular heartbeat.
Otis Boykin was born on August 29, 1920, in Dallas, Texas. After graduating from high school, he attended Fisk College in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating in 1941.
That same year, he took a job as a lab assistant with the Majestic Radio and TV Corporation in Chicago, Illinois. He rose in the ranks, ultimately serving as a supervisor. He eventually took a position with the P.J. Nilsen Research Laboratories while trying to start his own business, Boykin-Fruth Incorporated. At the same time, he decided to continue his education, pursuing graduate studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois. He was forced to drop out in 1947, after only two years of education, because he was unable to afford tuition.
Boykin, who took a special interest in working with resistors, began researching and inventing on his own. He sought and received a patent for a wire precision resistor on June 16, 1959. Two years later, he created a breakthrough device that could withstand extreme changes in temperature and pressure. The device, which was cheaper and more reliable than others on the market, was crucial to both the United States military and IBM and would also be highly demanded in the making of consumer goods like radios and televisions.
From 1964 to 1982, Boykin worked as a consult in the United States and Paris. During this time, he created an electrical capacitor in 1965, an electrical resistance capacitor in 1967, as well as a number of electrical resistance elements. In addition to his work on resistors, Boykin invented a control unit for pacemakers, a device that used electrical impulses to stimulate the heart and create a steady heartbeat. His most famous invention was a control unit for the pacemaker.
Ironically, Boykin died in Chicago in 1982 as a result of heart failure. Upon his death, he had 26 patents to his name.