The 4 Black Figures in Tech That You Need to Know About - Black History Month 2021

The 4 Black Figures in Tech That You Need to Know About - Black History Month 2021

Black history month, held annually throughout the month of October, has always been an important event in any marketing calendar. It offers a vital opportunity for individuals, companies, and the world at large to both highlight and uplift black voices both past and present.

It serves as a month where we can move beyond just the trauma of racism and slavery that commonly occupy conversations around black history and into celebrations of black achievement. Where the trailblazing figures of Caribbean and African heritage can be commemorated for their contributions towards modern life and the great legacies they have left behind on society and the modern working world.

And especially now more than ever in light of the news that only 4% of the UK tech workforce is made up of black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME), it’s clearer than ever that there’s still a lot of work to be done to bridge the still present divide between races.

But how do we go about this? How do we as a group collectively move past the mass inequality that has run prevalent for so long?

Well, in honour of the month, we thought it would be only right that as tech recruiters, for black history month we would take this opportunity to showcase some of the most influential black figures in the world of tech today.


John Henry “Jt” Thompson - Jamaican-American Software Engineer

  • The Inventor of the Lingo programming language used in Adobe Director (formerly named Macromedia Director) and a former Chief Scientist at Macromedia
  • As a scripting language, Lingo was used to develop a wide array of desktop content including application software, interactive kiosks, CD-ROMs and Adobe Shockwave
  • The language dominated the interactive multimedia product market during the 1990s and led to the creation of popular online video games such as Miniclip and


James E. West - American Inventor and Acoustician.

  • Prolific inventor most known for the creation of the foil electret microphone – still widely used in microphones today
  • Possess over 250 patents for the production, design and development of microphones
  • Nearly 90 percent of more than two billion microphones produced annually are based on the principles created by James
  • Is an inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame



Dr. Gladys West – Mathematician

  • Known as one of the first black female scientists to work for the US Naval Weapons Laboratory in the 1950s
  • An instrumental figure in modern numeracy that helped mathematically model the shape of the Earth
  • This work would then go on to be instrumental in the eventual development of modern GPS technology
  • For a long time, her work and rich 40-year career went unnoticed until a member of her university sorority noticed the short biography Mrs west had submitted and recognised the immense impact she’d had in history
  • Since then, Mrs West has been honoured and featured in numerous publications and in 2018, was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame


Dr. Shirley Jackson - Physicist, and Eighteenth President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  • Was the first African American Woman to Receive a Ph.D. from MIT specialising in physics. From this, she was also the second African American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in physics.
  • Widely considered one of the leading innovators within Modern Telecommunications Technology with her skills in Theoretical Physics enabling others to create Fax machines, touch-tone phone, fiber optic cells, caller ID and call waiting.
  • Was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for “her significant contributions as a distinguished scientist and advocate for education, science and public policy.”
  • Received the highest honour given by the U.S Government, the National Medal of Honor in 2014



To conclude

While not an exhaustive list by any means, the seminal figures that we’ve listed here are only touching the tip of the iceberg to the immense impact that black figures have and continue to have on not just the tech sector, but the world at large.

In order for us to move towards an eventual future where black voices are praised as loudly as their other counterparts, it’s crucial that not just for Black History Month but in everyday life, that we uplift, highlight & celebrate the black icons that have helped paved the way for us.