Improved electrical resistor is patented, February 21, 1961

photo of Otis Boykin

In 1961, inventor Otis Boykin received a patent for a novel electrical resistor that was simpler and less expensive to manufacture than current resistors that were wound on bobbins.

According to the patent, the resistor could be designed to combine minimum inductive with minimum capacitive effects, and provide tolerances as low as required. The resistors could also withstand intense accelerations, shocks, and temperature changes without breakage of the resistance wire, and featured an improved terminal connection for a resistance wire.

patent drawings for an electrical resistor

The new design meant resistors could adapt to different space requirements and mounting procedures so they could be used in more applications. It soon found use in guided missiles and IBM computers, and laid the groundwork for the precise regulation needed for the implantable pacemaker, which has impacted the lives of thousands of people around the world.

A 1968 article in The Pittsburgh Courier discussed how Boykin’s invention helped prolong the life of President Eisenhower after he required the use of a pacemaker.

Born in Dallas, Texas in 1920, Boykin graduated from Fisk University, where he studied math, physics, and chemistry, before moving to Chicago, where he studied at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He worked as a laboratory assistant testing automatic pilot control units, then at the P.J. Nilsen Research Labs. Boykin also started his own company, Boykin-Fruth Inc., and worked as a research consultant.

He received more than 25 patents in the emerging field of electronics. His other inventions included a wire precision resistor, an electrical capacitor, and an electrical resistance capacitor.

Boykin died in Chicago in 1982, and received his final patent in 1985. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

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