Lewis H. Latimer

The biography below is courtesy of The Faces of Science

Lewis Howard Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts on September 4, 1848. He learned mechanical drawing in the patent attorney office of Crosby and Gould, Boston, Massachusetts. He invented a toilet system for railroad cars in 1873, referred to as water closet for railroad cars. He also invented an electric lamp with an inexpensive carbon filament and a threaded wooden socket for light bulbs. He supervised the installation of carbon filament electric lighting in New York City, Philadelphia, Montreal, and London. He was responsible for preparing the mechanical drawings for Alexander Graham Bell s patent application for his telephone design. Lewis Latimer had the distinction of being the only African American member of the Edison Pioneers, a member of Thomas Edison s engineering division of the Edison Company. He joined the Edison Electric Light Company in 1884 and conducted research on electrical lighting. In 1890 he published Incandescent Electric Lighting, a technical engineering book which became a guide for lighting engineers. For years he served as an expert witness in the court battles over Thomas Edison s patents. At the time of Latimer s death in 1928, the Edison Pioneers attributed his "important inventions" to a "keen perception of the potential of the electric light and kindred industries."

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