Friday, October 17, 2014

Richard Spikes-Beer Keg, Auto Directional Signal, and Gearshift

richard-spikesRichard Spikes (1884-1962) was an African-American engineer from San Francisco, California. For all you party animals out there, you’ll be happy to know that the man behind your house party inebriation belongs to Spikes. In 1910, he patented a little device called the beer keg tap. It was later purchased and implemented by the Milwaukee Brewing Company.                                                      In 1913, Spikes patented a version of the automobile directional signal, a piece of technology he is most famous for. Though he was second to invent it, it was his work that Pierce Arrow automobiles used in their car models, which soon became the industry standard.                                                                                                                                        In 1932 he received a patent for an automatic gear shift device based on the first automatic transmission invented by the Sturtevant brothers of Boston. In his later years, Spikes continued to innovate for the car industry with a number of innovations, including the automatic safety brake in 1962.
While starting the project, he had already begun to lose his sight. So, not to let this handicap slow him down, Spikes invented a drafting machine for blind designers so he could complete the project.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The safety brake would soon be used nationwide in all school buses.                                                                                                                  

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