Miriam Benjamin Photo

Miriam Benjamin

Born: Sep 16, 1861

Death: Jan 1, 1947

Birthplace: Charleston

Nationality: United States

Miriam Benjamin

Date of Birth : Sep 16, 1861
Date of Death : Jan 1, 1947
Birth Place : Charleston

Miriam E. Benjamin was an African-American school teacher and inventor from Washington, D.C. On July 17, 1888 she obtained a patent for her invention, the Gong and Signal Chair for Hotels. The chair would "reduce the expenses of hotels by decreasing the number of waiters and attendants, to add to the convenience and comfort of guests and to obviate the necessity of hand clapping or calling aloud to obtain the services of pages." The chair worked when the person sitting would press a small button on the back of the chair which would then send a signal to a waiting attendant. A light would illuminate as well, allowing the attendant to see which guest needed help. The system was eventually adopted by the United States House of Representatives and was a precursor to the signaling system used on airplanes for passengers to seek assistance from flight attendants.

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