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Even the Super Soaker “Black Invention” claim is only half true.


Lonnie Johnson may very well be one of the most commercially successful black inventors in US history, and can rightly be called a black role model. However, his white partner who co-invented the Super Soaker with him is being whitewashed.

Out of all the absurd “black invention” claims made during Black History Month, I can only find one that is at least half true.

Each February we have expose the absurd “black invention” claims that are made each during February. Things like the refrigerator, the cell phone, the dust pan, ice cream, and so on.

I can only find one black invention claim that at least is half true and involves a commercially successful black inventor.

If the media wants to hold someone up as a black role model, present an honest claim. Don’t make absurd claims that can be disproved in ten seconds with google. As a choice for a black role model, Lonnie Johnson would be a good one. His name is on 94 patents. He has made millions.

He is certainly far bigger than George Washington Carver, who took out lots of patents but never had a commercially successful one. Carver only came up with his own processes for things that had already been done before.

However, someone is conveniently missing from story. His names is Bruce D’Andrade. He was a toy maker who has numerous patents. Lonnie Johnson was also a toy maker with many patents. In 1991 Laramie hired the pair to design a new kind of water gun.

In 1991 they patented the “pinch triggered water gun,” the original Super Soaker. They both became multimillionaires.

In 1992 the pair patented a new version. Two more times in 1993. Four new ones in 1994. A final one in 1995. After that they part ways and both continue patenting water guns and water rockets with new partners. Johnson starts his own research company and continued to take out more patents until 1998 for water guns and “wet diaper detectors.” Most of these patents only include his name. Though I do not know if any of these patents were commercially successful.

However, the media gives Johnson 100% of the credit. Numerous articles have been published on the origin of the of the super soaker that do not even mention Bruce. McDonalds plastered photos of Lonnie Johnson in their stores in February of 2012. No mention by McDonalds of Bruce D’Andrade,

Johnson is a giant among black engineers, but he co-invented the Super Soaker with a white man.