Otis Boykin was born on August 29, 1920, in Dallas, Texas. After graduating from high school, he attended Fisk College in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating in 1941.
That same year, he took a job as a lab assistant with the Majestic Radio and TV Corporation in Chicago, Illinois. He rose in the ranks, ultimately serving as a supervisor. He eventually took a position with the P.J. Nilsen Research Laboratories while trying to start his own business, Boykin-Fruth Incorporated. At the same time, he decided to continue his education, pursuing graduate studies at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois. He was forced to drop out in 1947, after only two years of education, because he was unable to afford tuition.
Boykin, who took a special interest in working with resistors, began researching and inventing on his own. He sought and received a patent for a wire precision resistor on June 16, 1959. This resistor would later be used in radios and televisions. Two years later, he created a breakthrough device that could withstand extreme changes in temperature and pressure. The device, which was cheaper and more reliable than others on the market, came in great demand by the United States military for guided missles and IBM for computers.