Inventors are inspirational. Lonnie Johnson is an African American inventor and engineer. He holds over 80 patents. He is working on green energy, but is best known for inventing the “Super Soaker”.
Lonnie George Johnson was born on October 6, 1949 in Mobile, Alabama. When Johnson was a child, his father taught Lonnie and his siblings to build their own toys. Lonnie dreamed of being a famous inventor. He attended Williamson High School, an all-black facility. After graduating Williamson’s last segregated class in 1968, he attended Tuskegee University on a scholarship. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineer in 1973 and then received a master’s degree in nuclear engineering.
After college, Johnson joined the United States Air Force. He was assigned to the Strategic Air Command. He helped develop the stealth bomber program. In 1979, Johnson went to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He returned to the Air Force in 1982. In 1989, he left the Air Force and went into business for himself. He sold his toy device to the Larami Corporation. In 1991, the “Super Soaker” made over $200 million and it ranks among the world’s best-selling toys.
Lonnie Johnson founded Johnson Research & Development. Dozens of patents have led to successful and unsuccessful products. The Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter (JTEC) is a device that aims to convert solar energy into electricity more efficiently than existing methods. Its success will make significant impact on green technology.
Johnson is board chairman of the Georgia Alliance for Children as well. He is a member of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta. In 2011, he was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. Lonnie Johnson married Linda Moore and they have had four children. They live in Atlanta, Georgia. Be inspired! Have a bright day!