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OTIS BOYKIN


"Persistence makes all the difference, whether in history or science. And it is that persistence that can change the world, in ways both large and subtle."

― Dr. Ken Bridges


About Otis Boykin


African American inventor Otis Boykin is best known for inventing a variable resistor used in computers, radios, television sets and a variety of electronic devices such as a control unit for heart stimulators; the unit was used in the artificial heart pacemaker, a device created to produce electrical shocks to the heart to maintain a healthy heart rate. He patented more than 25 electronic devices, and his inventions greatly assisted him in overcoming the obstacles that society placed in front of him during that era of segregation.

Boykin was born in Dallas, Texas, on August 29, 1920 to parents of modest means. His mother was a homemaker and his father was a carpenter. Boykin proved to be a brilliant and hard-working student. He graduated at the top of his class from the segregated Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas. He won a scholarship to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, a respected, historically African-American university. While a student at Fisk, he worked at the university’s aeronautics lab, where researchers devised new components and designs for aircraft. He graduated from Fisk University in 1941 and got a job as a laboratory assistant, testing automatic aircraft controls. In 1944, he moved on to work for the P.J. Nilsen Research Labs in Illinois. Shortly thereafter, he started his own company, Boykin-Fruth Inc.