28 days of Black Inventions: Gong & Signal Chair

28 days of Black Inventions

February 25th, 2017

Gong & Signal Chair

As we normally do this time of year, we’re going to celebrate Black History Month by acknowledging 28 of the most influential, world changing inventions by Black People. Our goal is to shed light on some inventions that most people probably didn’t know about, some of the lessor known inventions as well some of the more notable inventions. So, join us on our 28-day journey and you might learn a thing or two.

Gong & Signal Chair



The Gong & Signal Chair almost sounds too comical to be real, but it is very real. In fact, it was a rather brilliant design and concept. Very useful for the era it was created for. Simply put the Gong & Signal Chair was a chair that had a small electric apparatus attached to it. Also, a button that you can press in Hotels, Restaurants and many other public spaces. This was used as a simpler way to call for service/help without having to raise your hand or yell. It was a more courteous way of communicating with the staff.

When the button was pressed, a light would come on and help would be on the way. Knowing this info also allowed companies to properly manage the number of staff needed to operate on a given night. This Invention became so popular this it was also used in the U.S House of Representatives as a formal way of communication. The Patent was submitted on October 1st, 1887 & Approved on July 17th, 1888.

Miriam E. Benjamin

(We could not find a confirmed Pic of Miriam Benjamin,when & If we do we will post it)

Miriam Benjamin was among the 1st African American Women to receive a Patent for her Invention, The Gong & Signal Chair. She was Born a Free Woman in 1861, in Charleston, South Carolina. She would eventually settle in Washington, D.C & become a School Teacher While Graduating from Howard University Law School. Her Invention was the springboard technology for many future Inventions, such as the Flight Attendant Button on Airplanes & the Service button found in many Casino Slot Machines. Alerting the staff that their attention is needed. It was a great idea, Invention & it ultimately worked.

Editor’s Note:

Not much else is known about Miriam Benjamin other than the fact the she was of mixed race (Father Jewish & her Mother was African American) & she never married or had any kids. However, her contribution lives on in many forms. #Thankyou




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