Former Slave Turned Inventor Patented Technology Still Being Used In Lawn Mowers Today

A black inventor from Maryland named John Albert Burr patented a cutting-edge invention in May 1899 that is still utilized in modern lawn mowers today.

Although he was not the inventor of the first lawn mower, he did build one with traction wheels and rotational blades that would not easily get clogged with grass and weeds. Also, he made significant design improvements to the lawn mower that allowed for closer mowing of building and wall edges.

In total, Burr held more than 30 American patents for agricultural and lawn care innovations. Even today’s mulching power lawnmowers are considered a part of his legacy.

He and his parents were both slaves when he was born in 1848, but they were eventually freed during emancipation. John spent his teenage years as a slave, working as a farm labourer.

His engineering skills were eventually discovered by rich black activists after he was freed. They gave him the chance to enrol in engineering courses at a private university.

Burr started to see a chance to use his mechanical abilities while he was still in school, and he began to repair and maintain farm machinery and other machines to earn a living.

Later, he relocated to Chicago, where he worked as a steelworker in addition to filing his first rotary mower patent in 1898. The US Patent and Trademark Office granted him a patent just a year later, in 1899.

He was able to see his ideas’ economic success in the early 1920s and also collected many royalties for them. He loved to lecture and travel, and he passed away from the flu in 1926 at the age of 78.

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