Photos: African-American Inventors

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Dr. James E. West

In 1960, Bell Laboratories physicists James West and Gerhard Sessler were challenged to produce a compact, inexpensive microphone to replace the more costly versions utilized in most telephones. Two years later, they developed the Electroacoustic Transducer Electret Microphone, a small, durable, moderately priced mic that’s still employed today in tape recorders, camcorders, baby monitors and hearing aids.

(Photo: Will Kirk) 

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