We all love to travel + explore, but how frequently do we stop and think about the innovators that have helped paved the way to allow us to do so? In honor of Black History Month, here are some inventors that we couldn’t travel without!

Dr. Gladys West - Inventor of GPS Technology

An American mathematician, scientist, programmer and all around genius known for helping to create a absolutely critical part of traveling - GPS. Her contributions led to the mathematical modelling of the shape of the Earth and she was a part of the team of mathematicians who worked on the development of the satellite geodesy models that were eventually incorporated into the Global Positioning System. Just last year, West was inducted into the United States Air Force Hall of Fame. The next time you are lost on vacation in a new place and using trusty Google Maps, thank Dr. West!


Lewis Latimer - Incandescent Light Bulb

Now, if we were to ask you who invented the light bulb you would probably say “Thomas Edison”, and while that is true, he did invent a light bulb, he didn’t invent what we in 2019 all think of. While working for U.S. Electric Lighting, owned by Hiram Maxim (rival of Thomas Edison), Latimer devised a way of encasing the filament inside of the bulb within an cardboard envelope which prevented the carbon from breaking and thereby provided a much longer life to the bulb. This made made the bulbs less expensive and more efficient. This enabled electric lighting to be installed within homes and throughout streets. As you take an evening stroll down the street of a new city + are enjoying the warm glow of light, thank Mr. Latimer!

Jan Ernst Matzeliger - Inventor of Modern Shoes

We usually recommend that travelers bring their walking shoes to wander on their Pack Up + Go trips because everyone knows one of the best parts of vacation is exploring the unknown! We can thank Jan Ernst Matzeliger for developing the first technology that automated the shoe making process and reduced the price of shoes for the masses. The cost of shoes used to be much higher, pricing them out for many Americans. Thankfully, Matzeliger invented an automated machine that attached a shoe’s upper part to its sole. Once completely, the device could make 700 pairs of shoes each day - 650 more than when sewed by hand. Matzeliger's creation led to lower shoe prices, making them finally within financial reach for the average American. So put on those shoes + stomp it out for Mr. Matzeliger!

Mark E. Dean - Inventor of the Personal Computer

Okay, well kind of!

If you ever owned a personal computer, you can partially credit its existence to Mark E. Dean. The computer scientist + engineer worked for IBM, where he led the team that designed the ISA bus—the hardware interface that allows multiple devices - like printers, modems, and keyboards - to be plugged into a computer. This innovation helped pave the way for the personal computer's use in office and business settings.

Dean also helped develop the first color computer monitor, and in 1999 he led the team of programmers that created the world's first gigahertz chip. Today, the computer scientist holds three of the company's original nine patents, and more than 20 overall. Dean was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1997. He's currently a computer science professor at the University of Tennessee. Thank you Mr. Dean for creating something that is so critical to the Pack Up + Go process!

Richard Spikes - Inventor of the Automatic Gear Shift

Whether you are on a road trip, cruising in a ride-share, or taking the public bus, we can all thank Richard Spikes for his advances to the art of driving. In addition to the automatic gear shift (aka a blessing for everyone of us who doesn’t know how to drive a manual car), Mr. Spikes invented automobile directional signals, the automatic safety brake, and the automatic car washer. His inventions made traveling by car easier and safer.

Extra for our beer lovers - Richard Spikes also invented the beer keg tap in 1910. Cheers!

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Have a great inventor that you think should be added to the list?

Let us know in the comments!