Henry Brown – Black Inventor
Even in 1886, privacy and security were of major importance to people. However, they had no place to store their important documents, valuables, and loose money, and so they relied on local banks. While banks were generally safe – the world depicted in movies makes them seem fairly tame – there were a lot of transgressions of personal privacy involved in leaving your prized possessions’ there. Obviously you would not have direct access to your goods, which was a crime prevention technique, but this was problematic because you had to trust bank staff. They could pretty much do as they pleased, and smart criminals could often pay the staff to glean important information about people’s personal lives and circumstances.
For Henry Brown, this was unacceptable. He saw a gap to create a tiny safe, complete with lock and key, which could only be accessed by the individual who had the key. He came up with a design of forged steel, which was almost impenetrable, and several different compartments inside of which one could store documents and so forth. This box, which we know as a strongbox, could be stored at me for personal safety, or in a bank for additional safety, without the risk of your personal space being violated.
Although it seems as if this was an obvious thing to do, Brown was the first person to think of filling this security void. The ability to see a need and fill it is the hallmark of a true creative genius, and Brown managed to see this in November 1886. His strongbox appealed to one of our most primal human needs, security and privacy, in a way that we cannot overlook. Next time you access your most prized possessions, spare a thought and say a thank you to the mind of Mr Brown!