Latimer, Lewis Howard

Latimer, Lewis Howard

(1848–1928) inventor, engineer; born in Chelsea, Mass. After serving in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War, he studied drafting, eventually becoming chief draftsman for both General Electric and Westinghouse. He invented a "water closet for railroad cars" (1873) and drafted the patent drawings for Alexander Graham Bell's first telephone. In 1881 he devised a method to make a carbon filament for a light bulb made by one of Edison's competitors and then supervised that firm's installation of electric lights in New York, Philadelphia, Montreal, and London. In 1884 he went to work for Thomas Edison's company.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.