Lonnie G. Johnson

Famous African American Engineer

Background Information

Lonnie G. Johnson was born on October 9, 1949 in Mobile, Alabama, United States. He stayed there in his early life and for grew up there. He attended Williamson High, an all black school He then attended Tuskegee University and earned his master degrees in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. He then drafted into the U.S. Air Force and the NASA space program. He was assigned to the Strategic Air Command in the Air Force, where he helped develop the stealth bomber program. Johnson moved on to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1979, working as a systems engineer for the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Cassini mission to Saturn, before returning to the Air Force in 1982. Although he was very busy with all of this, he still inquired to make his own inventions. He waited about 7 years, left the Air Force , and started to mainly focus on his creations. Johnson created a water gun and sold it to he Larami Corporation. The first name for it was the "Power Drencher". It started off to a very slow rate of product sales, but with new and improved marketing skills, and the change of the name to "Super Soaker" it started to finally improve and get popular. In fact, it sky-rocketed to 200 million dollars in sales and became a toy in the 20 worlds best selling toys. This toy still sales today and is also a true classic.


  • Johnson was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal once, and the Air Force Commendation Medal twice.
  • Johnson is board chairman of the Georgia Alliance for Children and a member of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, an organization that mentors high school and college students.
  • In 2011, he was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame.
  • Creating one of the most popular and best selling toy ever in history.

More Pictures Of Lonnie Johnson


"I got fired from a job once because of my Super Soaker. I guess that's what happens when you accidentally drench a custom when you're trying to get a co-worker who ducks."