In 1892, George T. Sampson received the first U.S. patent for a mechanical clothes dryer, which was his most notable invention. He was an African American, and his patent was registered only a generation after the end of slavery.
Earlier clothes dryer designs had existed, a fact that Sampson acknowledged by calling his design an improvement rather than a new creation. His innovation was in designing the dryer as a frame that could be placed over a stove and easily removed when not in use. Earlier dryers that also used heat to dry clothes were called ventilators. However, these were large metal drums that had to be placed over a fire and constantly rotated. Sampson's design did not require manual rotation or an open flame. Sampson also patented a design for sled propellers in 1885.