Lewis Howard Latimer

Lewis Howard Latimer

Lewis Howard Latimer

Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928), inventor, scientist; born in Chelsea, Mass. Latimer served in the Union Navy in 1863, studied drafting, and later invented and patented an incandescent light bulb with a carbon filament in 1881.

He served as an engineer for the Edison Company for many years, and while with Edison supervised the installation of the electric light system in New York, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Montreal, Canada; and London, England.

Latimer wrote the first textbook on the lighting system used by the Edison Company, and he was employed by Alexander Graham Bell to make patent drawings for the first telephone. He also served as chief draftsman for General Electric and Westinghouse companies. 

Lewis Latimer was known as a “Renaissance” man, a man of many talents. An accomplished poet, painter, playwrite, musician as well as a pioneering engineer, he overcame many obstacles without having any doubts about his talents. Recognizing that Thomas Edison’s bamboo filament was impractical (Edison’s original bulb lasted only 30 hours before burning out), Latimer invented the carbon filament, thus making the light bulb practical.