George Edward Alcorn

By Avery

George Edward Alcorn is one of the greatest black inventors, that has ever walked on the face of the earth. George Edward Alcorn was born March 22nd 1940 in Indianapolis, Indiana, George was the son of Arletta and George Alcorn Sr., an auto mechanic. Both parents promoted the virtu of education to George Alcorn Jr. and his younger brother Charles Alcorn.


George was an excellent student in high school and entered Occidental College in Los Angeles, California on an academic scholarship. Howard University is where George Edward Alcorn got his masters degree in Nuclear Physics in 1963. From the same institution he earned his Doctorate in Atomic and Molecular Physics in the year 1967.

Before the X-RAY!

He obtained work during the summers of 1962 and 1963 at North American Rockwell, a leading aerospace company.Alcorn signed on with Philco Ford, a division of the Ford Motor Company. Philco-Ford produced a wide array of products, ranging from car radio to television set.Some of his work involved the Titan and Saturn missiles from the NASA’s Apollo space missions and well as the NOVA missile. In 1964, Alcorn applied for a research grant from NASA to study the concept of negative ion formation. He was awarded the grant and conducted his research from 1965 to 1967. At the same time, he was enrolled in the Physics program at Howard University and received a doctorate in Atomic and Molecular physics in 1967.

The X-RAY!

Alcorn joined NASA where he invented an imaging X-ray spectrometer which used thermomigration of aluminum. “X-ray spectrometry is used to provide data which can be analyzed for a number of applications, including for obtaining information about remote solar systems and other space objects. It is during his tenure as a senior scientist at NASA, that he developed the Imaging X-Ray Spectrometer”(Felix Omondi, 2014). In the year 1984, he got a patent for his “Method for fabricating an imaging x-ray spectrometer”.

Over his career, Alcorn created numerous noteworthy inventions and secured more than 25 patents. Some think white inventors are the best but that is not always true. George Edward Alcorn Jr. definitely goes down in as one of the best African American inventors whose contribution to science and technology became invaluable to the world.
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