Black History: James West
Written by Andria on February 3, 2018
Shout out to this Temple grad for making the contemporary microphone what it is today!
James West was born on February 10, 1931, in Prince Edward County, Virginia. He took an early interest to science and how the world around him worked. As a child, you could find him deconstruction electronics around the house.
He continued to pursue his thirst for knowledge at Temple University studying physics. During his summers he would intern at Bell Laboratories. Upon graduation, he landed a full time position at Bell.
In 1960, West and coworker, Gerhard M. Sessler, began researching how to create a more compact and inexpensive microphone. By 1962, they developed the electret transducer and by 1968, their invention was in mass production.
West won many awards through his career and became a champion for women and people of color within science & technology fields.
He accumulated more than 250 patents on microphones & polymer-foil electrets during his career. He retired in 2001. After his retirement, he became a research professor at John Hopkins University.