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Black Inventors and Innovators - Richard Spikes

Updated on February 25, 2011


Richard Spikes was born in San Francisco, California in 1884 and died in 1962. There is not much known or written about Richard Spikes’ early life and very little is known about the man with many inventions.  What is known about Spikes is the inventions that he is credited with. Richard Spikes is known for the numerous inventions that he created that have made a significant impact today.  Spikes inventions are very diverse although the bulk of his inventions have to do with the automobile.

Spikes, an engineer, is best known for his patent on his improved directional signals.  The first directional signal was actually originally invented by Percy Douglas-Hamilton and Spikes improved upon its design.  Spikes directional signal would become standard in all automobiles. Spikes also received a patent for an automatic gear shift device.

In 1910 Spikes invented the beer keg tap which was later purchased by the Milwaukee Brewing Company.

Some other inventions that Spikes is accredited with are the automatic car washer, the self locking rack for billiard cues, the automatic shoe shine chair, a multiple barrel machine gun, a horizontally swinging barber chair and an automatic safety brake. From this list it is easy to see just how diverse Spikes’ inventions are. 

Late in his life when he was creating the automatic safety brake Spikes was losing his vision.  Spikes created a machine for blind designers so that he could finish creating his invention.  By the end of his life Spikes was legally blind but he finished his invention and it was on almost every school bus.

When Richard Spikes died he had created numerous inventions some of which were purchased by major companies and others for which he received enormous sums of money.  Still Spikes did not receive the accolades or the respect that he deserved.  Even though there is not much written or known about Spikes as a person or his early life it is known that he definitely persevered through the many adversities that he was confronted with. Spikes was an inventor unlike any other.   


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    • profile image

      Dan 2 years ago

      Wow, after 5 hours of searching, I finally find the right information for my PowerPoint.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Hello Hello!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      An absolute disgrace for the white race. Thank you for bringing this great man to our attention and writing such a fine hub in his honour.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      ocbill - That is so true! We need more of this innovative thinking! Thanks for your comments!

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 6 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      These kind of innovative thinkers are what we need to foster more of, especially in these times of rising gas, food and energy prices. Spikes made some very good useful inventions.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      BkCreative - Thanks for the comments! I have to say I felt the same. He is inspiring for certain and the fact that he carried on through blindness is just amazing!

      Eiddwen - Thank you! I love learning this has been a great experience for me.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Hi Triplet Mom,

      Thanks for another great hub in this series.We never stop learning and thank goodness for that.

      Useful/up here.

      take care


    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Many thanks! It's amazing the versatility here. He created for every need there was. Reading hubs like this I feel both inspired - and then like a 'do nothing' - but ah, fortunately, the inspiration wins out and so I carry on. Which is why we need this history.

      Rated up of course!