Dr. Walter Lincoln Hawkins, Recipient of a  National Medal of Technology in 1992. Pioneered plastic casings used for phone cables, which revolutionized universal phone service.  First African American scientist at Bell Laboratories in 1942.

Dr. Walter Lincoln Hawkins- National Medal of Technology 1992. Pioneered plastics used for phone cables, which revolutionized universal phone service. First African American technician at Bell Laboratories.  (Born March 1911- Died August 1992)

*Dr. Walter Lincoln Hawkins was an African American scientist and inventor who made history while working at Bell Laboratories in the 1940’s, when he became the first to join their technical staff.  Walter was born in 1911, and as a child growing up in Washington, D. C., he was the kind of kid who would dismantle toys to rebuild them into something else.

His curious nature proved invaluable when a teacher at Dunbar High School inspired him to pursue chemical engineering.  As a result, Hawkins was instrumental in developing durable plastics used for telephone cables when the nation’s rubber supply was cut off by Southeast Asia during World War II.

Dr. Hawkins’ invention led to improved insulation for telephone cables, which also accounted for more universal service because more cables could be laid in rural areas.

Dr. Hawkins enjoyed over three decades at Bell Laboratories.  He earned an undergrad degree at Rensselear Poly-Tech in Troy, New York, a Masters Degree at Howard University, and a Doctorate in Chemistry at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.  He passed away in 1992, the same year that both he and Bill Gates were awarded the National Medal of Technology from President George H. Bush.  Walter Lincoln Hawkins was also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

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