Inventors and Patents From the City of Augusta

The City of Augusta, Georgia, was home to many great inventions and inventors. This section highlights some of the notable inventions from the area. Read about the work of MARJORIE JOYNER and HEDY LAMARR, who invented the active model rocket descent controller, and the permanent wave machine. Listed below are some more famous Augusta residents who have received patents.


In 1928, Joyner invented a hair-curling machine that allowed women of all ethnic backgrounds to permanently curl their hair in a straight style. Inspired by pot roast pins, Joyner developed a machine that was essentially a grid of 16 rods connected by an electrical cord and a hood. She also invented a scalp protector to prevent burns while curling hair. In the years that followed, Joyner received patents on a variety of hair-curling apparatuses, including a permanent wave machine and a scalp protector.

A display of Joyner’s invention is featured in the National Archives Museum until March 18th. The exhibit was curated by Jen Johnson of the National Archives in Kansas City. Born in Virginia, Joyner moved to Ohio with her parents in 1885. She and her mother later moved to Chicago where she graduated from A. B. Molar Beauty School. In 1894, she was the first African American woman to graduate from the school.

While Joyner never received substantial compensation for her inventions, she continued breaking ground in the beauty industry. She co-founded the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association and Alpha Chi Pi Omega Sorority and Fraternity in order to improve the standards for beauty professionals. At age 77, Joyner returned to school, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bethune-Cookman College.

Marjorie Joyner was born on October 24, 1896 in Monterey, Virginia. Her parents were slaves, and her father was a white slave owner. She lived in poverty for several years, and eventually moved to Chicago to pursue her education. She then worked as an adviser for the Walker Beauty Colleges and opened more than 200 beauty schools in the country. Later, she came up with an idea for a permanent wave machine. The device allowed black women to straighten hair in a fraction of the time.


Hedy Lamarr was dubbed the “most beautiful woman in the world” when she co-patented a torpedo guidance system for the U.S. Navy in 1942. This invention could have saved lives and helped the Allies win the war at sea. However, she was ignored by authorities who urged her to use her celebrity to sell war bonds. The bombshell documentary, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story by Alexandra Dean, tells the story of Hedy Lamarr and her invention of a radio-guided torpedo. Though Lamarr never received any payment for her invention, she became a cultural icon for her country and the world.

Hedy Lamarr, a famous Hollywood film star, emigrated to the United States during WWII to support the Allied Forces. She co-invented a secret communication system that allowed U.S. Navy ships to send classified messages across oceans without being spotted. This system was not adopted by the navy until the 1960s Cuban Missile Crisis.

The concept was developed by Lamarr and Antheil, who had worked on the idea for a few months. They also consulted an electrical engineer to refine their idea to a patentable level. The invention used slotted paper rolls for the transmission and reception, reflecting the musical background of Antheil. It took the pair six months to perfect the idea, which was awarded U.S. Patent No. 2,292,387 in August 1942.

Hedy Lamarr never received any money from her invention, but later in life she was awarded an award by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Her invention even got her an Inventors Day in Germany. Aside from her patent, Lamarr was an accomplished woman whose creative imagination and multidimensionality made her a global superstar. But her success is short-lived – she received an award by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

MARJORIE JOYNER’S permanent wave machine

In a nutshell, MARJORIE JOYNER’s permanent wave machine is a machine that is designed to give you a beautiful, bouncy, and long-lasting wave on your hair. This machine was invented by an African-American businesswoman and philanthropist named Marjorie Joyner. Known for her dedication to hair education, philanthropy, and activism, Joyner was the first black woman to create a permanent hair-wave machine.

This invention was originally known as the permanent wave iron, and it was invented in 1927 by an African American hairdresser named Marjorie S. Joyner. Joyner had been experimenting with different setups for her machine, and she did not realize that she should patent her invention until she saw how it worked. Joyner filed for a patent on her permanent wave machine on May 16, 1928 along with a scalp protector for her product. The invention is a big hit with Black and white women alike, and Madam C.J. Walker’s company was the one that made the most money from it.

Before deciding to patent her invention, Joyner began experimenting with an old-fashioned air dyer hood. She soon improved the design and was awarded a U.S. patent for her permanent wave machine. She also patented a scalp protector, which was made of silicone, and marketed as the “Permanent Wave Machine”. Madam C.J. Walker’s company acquired the rights to the machine and the permanent wave machine, but Joyner did not get a profit from it.

Despite her successful career in the field, Joyner’s work in promoting beauty education and fighting racial discrimination has not been without its challenges. Joyner, who was born into slavery, began a beauty school at the age of 16 and soon became the first African-American cosmetologist to obtain a license from an A.B. Molar beauty school. She was the first black woman to receive a U.S. patent for her Permanent Wave Machine. The invention was made possible thanks to the generosity of Nelson Rockefeller.

MARJORIE JOYNER’S active model rocket descent controller

Developed in the late 1960s, the active model rocket descent controller was the brainchild of NASA astronaut Marjorie Joyner. Joyner was born in Monterey, Virginia, the granddaughter of an enslaved black woman and a white slave owner. Her family lived in poverty until she moved to Chicago, where she studied at the A.B. Molar Beauty School. Later, she joined NASA and was a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. She retired from NASA in 1971.


Inventors and patents from the City of Augusta are a wonderful resource to discover the history of an area. Henry Alexander was born in 1871 and was the son of a prominent Augusta family. Henry was a student at the University of Georgia and was interested in science. His first invention was a typewriter that had a paper holder attached to the belt. In order to create copies of documents, typists would use carbon paper. This method left black smudges on the hands and face of the typists and traveled through clothing and skin. Henry patented a new way to remove these marks by inserting a special ribbon between the pages of a document.

Henry Alexander was a prolific inventor in the 20th century. His inventions include the typewriter attachment, football inflating devices, bobbin-less sewing machines, and more. His inventions made life easier for people and were profitable for his family. Inventors and patents from the City of Augusta highlight the work of local innovators and entrepreneurs who made a positive impact on our world.

The most important patents in Henry Alexander’s post-war period include toys, sewing technologies, kitchen appliances, and typewriter attachments. These patents demonstrate his growing technical prowess. A popular toy, the toy he patented in 1950, included an inflatable inner chamber. This made it easier to wash and made it easier to clean. The patent led to thousands of toys with this type of technology.

The most popular toys in Henry’s era incorporated some level of mechanical complexity. A stuffed animal with movable eyes concealed a tiny, fully functional radio. Henry’s toys allowed girls to practice tasks they would do if they were to become a mother. His toys were masterpieces of engineering. The toy was a popular item that reflected the changing times.

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