Humanities › History & Culture Otis Boykin Otis Boykin Invented an Improved Electrical Resistor Share Flipboard Email Print Otis Boykin and Patent. topsimages.com History & Culture Inventions Famous Inventors Famous Inventions Patents & Trademarks Invention Timelines Computers & The Internet American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Mary Bellis Inventions Expert Mary Bellis covered inventions and inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell. our editorial process Mary Bellis Updated February 03, 2019 Otis Boykin is best known for inventing an improved electrical resistor used in computers, radios, television sets and a variety of electronic devices. Boykin invented a variable resistor used in guided missile parts and a control unit for heart stimulators; the unit was used in the artificial heart pacemaker, a device created to produce electrical shocks to the heart to maintain a healthy heart rate. He patented more than 25 electronic devices, and his inventions greatly assisted him in overcoming the obstacles that society placed in front of him during that era of segregation. Boykin's inventions also helped the world achieve the technology so prevalent today. Biography of Otis Boykin Otis Boykin was born on Aug. 29, 1920, in Dallas, Texas. After graduating from Fisk University in 1941 in Nashville, Tennessee, he was employed as a laboratory assistant for the Majestic Radio and TV Corporation of Chicago, testing automatic controls for airplanes. He later became a research engineer with the P.J. Nilsen Research Laboratories, and he eventually founded his own company, Boykin-Fruth Inc. Hal Fruth was his mentor at the time and business partner. Boykin continued his education at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago from 1946 to 1947, but he had to drop out when he could no longer pay tuition. Undeterred, he began to work harder on his own inventions in electronics — including resistors, which slow the flow of electricity and allow a safe amount of electricity to move through a device. Boykin's Patents He earned his first patent in 1959 for a wire precision resistor, which — according to MIT — "allowed for the designation of a precise amount of resistance for a specific purpose." He patented an electrical resistor in 1961 that was easy to produce and inexpensive. This patent — a huge breakthrough in science — had the ability to “withstand extreme accelerations and shocks and great temperature changes without danger of breakage of the fine resistance wire or other detrimental effects.” Due to the significant cost reduction of electrical components and the fact that the electrical resistor was more reliable than others on the market, the U.S. military utilized this device for guided missiles; IBM used it for computers. The Life of Boykin Boykin’s inventions allowed him to work as a consultant in the United States and in Paris from 1964 to 1982. According to MIT, he "created an electrical capacitor in 1965 and an electrical resistance capacitor in 1967, as well as a number of electrical resistance elements." Boykin also created consumer innovations, including a "burglar-proof cash register and a chemical air filter." The electrical engineer and inventor will forever be known as one of the most talented scientists of the 20th century. He earned the Cultural Science Achievement Award for his progressive work in the medical field. Boykin continued to work on resistors until he died of heart failure in 1982 in Chicago.