Today in History – February 2, 1897 – Ice cream scoop patented by Alfred L. Cralle, the first African-American in Pittsburgh to receive a patent. His patent became the model for ice cream scoops in households soon after and the basis for many scoops today. Cralle was born in Lunenberg County, Virginia on September 4, 1866, was educated in the common schools of the county, and later worked with his father in the carpenter. This work sparked his interest in mechanics and he took advanced courses at Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C. Although educated, his career path was to move to Pittsburgh where he served as a porter in Markell Brothers’ drug store and the St. Charles Hotel. He advanced to assistant manager when the Afro-American Financial, Accumulating, Merchandise and Business Association was organized.
For more information, see the Engineering Pathway’s resources on African American scientists, engineers & inventors or our engineering diversity website. For curricular resources, browse our resources on product and industrial design or visit the Mechanical Engineering Education community site.
Also on this date in history in 1923, ethyl gasoline is first marketed. Tomas Midgley, inventor and chemical engineer, credited with playing a major role in its development. Alas, he did not foresee all of the environmental issues associated with it and the product was later outlawed after many years of public action and scientific analysis. For more information, see the Engineering Pathwa’s resources on gasoline, petroleum additives and tetra-ethyl lead or Chemical Engineering Education.