It’s no secret that success for African Americans in tech has not come easily. As part of a cultural group that has been on the receiving end of discrimination, disenfranchisement, and blatant terror extending back hundreds of years, black engineers and tech executives often feel like they must perform at twice the level just to break even with their non-minority counterparts. It’s no surprise, then, that only around 2 percent of the American engineering workforce is black or minority.
Despite those immense challenges, a handful of black professionals in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s broke through and succeeded at high-tech firms. Their faces might not be as prominent or well-known as those of white tech pioneers, but their contributions to the industry are no less important.
Below, we’ll take a look at a handful of these important innovators. By no means is this a complete list; there are many more out there, and I encourage those of you interested in the subject to keep researching this vital corner of black history after you’re done reading here. It is my hope that they may serve as inspiration to kids of today who may be considering a career in technology.