Born in Haiti, Marc B. Auguste Sr. is one of the small minority of African-American patent holders. The developer of a multi-purpose portable coin organiser, his invention has helped to improve the lives of thousands of visually and physically impaired individuals around the world.

Born in the Caribbean country of Haiti, Marc B. Auguste Sr. is a genius of a man. Holder of a Bachelor of Arts and a degree in general mechanics from the University of Haiti in Port-au-Prince, he holds a teaching certification from Paris, worked as the director of the multimedia department at the Thetford-Mines College. He studied at the RCA Institute of Technology in New York, before finally accepting a position teaching electronics at the Technology College in Sherbrooke, Quebec in the late 1960s.

The Coin Organiser

However, he was not content to apply his intelligence to theory alone, and was instrumental in the development and prototyping of an invention known as the ‘PortSouT’. A coin organiser, this multi-purpose portable machine acted as an assistive device for the blind and physically handicapped.

Created primarily by Auguste Sr., its invention was nonetheless aided by his eldest son, Marc Jr., and daughter-in-law, Jacqueline. The three together share the intellectual property rights to it, placing them amongst the few African-Americans who hold patents.

The creation of the assistive device was an act of true altruism. Identifying the problems faced by the visually impaired and physically limited, Auguste Sr. determined to come up with a solution – in the form of his invention. Small and simple to use, the end result sat easily in the palm of the hand, and could hold a multitude of differently sized coins, the right one extractable through a simple push of the thumb.

For those who could not see or struggled to handle money due to a physical disability, the impact of this was revolutionary. It simplified a task that had before been so hard, and made it possible to hand over the correct amount of money without having to rely on others to assist the transaction. Simple tasks such as going to the local shop were fundamentally changed for the better.

Innovation in the Blood

Despite the importance of his invention, Auguste Sr. continued to push for his own betterment rather than resting on his laurels. By the mid-1970s, he had moved to Thetford Mines, PQ, where he and his wife Michelle still reside. Together, the two pursued their professional gemologist certifications, adding another string to Auguste Sr.’s already overflowing bow.

Inventing continued to be a family affair, with co-creator Marc Auguste Jr. featuring as a contestant on the second season of the Canadian version of the TV show Dragon’s Den. Ever striving for improvement like his father, he also became a member of the Toronto-based chapter of the Inventor’s Alliance of Canada.

Today, the legacy of Marc B. Auguste Senior’s invention lives on. The first of many innovations of its ilk, it helped to show the world that there was no problem that could not be worked around with the application of intelligence. Where the human body failed, the human mind could provide a solution, and the Auguste family most certainly did.