Lewis Howard Latimer, 1848-1928
Inventor of: Electric Lamp; Patent#247,097, Sept 13, 1881
Globe Supporter for Electric Lamps; Patent#255,212, March 21, 1882
Lewis Howard Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1848, and was one of the first major African American inventors. His work with Alexander Graham Bell has been both notable and shrouded in mystery. Some insist it was actually Latimer and not Bell who invented the telephone, however, the truth behind this lasting rumor is difficult to determine, because Latimer defended Alexander Graham Bell’s claims to the invention in court.
After his work with Bell, Latimer became a member of Thomas Edison’s research team, which was called “Edison’s Pioneers.” Here he made his most important scientific contribution, by improving the light bulb that was invented by Edison. Edison’s bulb was lit by a glowing, electrified paper filament that burnt out too quickly. Latimer invented a bulb with a carbon filament that lasted much longer.
He sold his patent to the United States Electric Company in 1881, but went on to patent a process for manufacturing the carbon filament effectively (1882). He also created a globe supporter for his electric lamp.
Latimer is also credited with the following:
1. He wrote the first book on electric lighting, entitled Incandescent Electric Lighting (1890).
2. He supervised the installation of public electric lights through New York, Philadelphia,
Montreal and London.
3. He invented the first water closet (toilet) for railroad cars (1874), an invention which will be
featured in a later calendar.
4. He patented the forerunner of the air conditioner (1886), which will be featured in an