Lewis Howard Latimer Inventions


Lewis Howard Latimer was born to a family that were slaves. However, this did not prevent him from going on and becoming a prolific inventor. His inventions hold so much importance to date, he was eventually inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Religion was an important part of Latimer’s life. He became a founding member of the Unitarian Church in his community. At the age of 15, Latimer joined the Navy and started his career as an office assistant at a local patent firm.

Greatest Accomplishments of Lewis Howard Latimer

Here is a look at some of his most important inventions:

1. The Railroad Car Toilet

Less than 10 years after joining the patent law firm, Latimer was part of the patent of a railroad toilet that was used for train cars at the time. The purpose of the invention was to reduce the drafts that people felt when opening up the toilet as the train rolled along the tracks and would prevent dust and debris from flying up to smack someone using it in the posterior.

2. The Telephone

Although Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, the patent submission process wouldn’t have gone as smoothly as it did without Latimer’s help. Graham hired Latimer to draw up all the necessary drawings that the patent office required in order to approve the patent. With Latimer’s help, Graham was able to personally deliver the application to the patent office just hours ahead of his competitors and won the patent rights.

Because of the detailed drafts that were submitted to the patent office, there are many who believe that Latimer was the actual inventor of the telephone. He defended Bell’s claims to the invention in court when challenges were made.

3. The Installation of Lights in Major City

In 1881, Latimer was hired by the founder of the US Electric Light Company to be an assistant manager. It was here that he began the process of creating his most famous invention that led to his induction into the Hall of Fame. He sold the first carbon filaments to his employer that would eliminate the initial paper filaments. During this period of time, Latimer also supervised the installation of lights in many major cities, including London, New York City, and Philadelphia.

4. The Filaments in Light Bulbs

One of the most famous inventions that Latimer created was the improved manufacturing process that allowed for a better method of producing the filaments. There are the little strands of metal inside a traditional lightbulb that lit up when electricity was introduced to the bulb. That invention helped him land a job with the Edison Electric Company as a draftsman, which is where he stayed as a patent consultant to law firms.

5. Air Conditioning

Taking what he had learned from the invention process of the water closet, Latimer also invented a forerunner of the modern air conditioner that we use today. It was a window unit, designed for apartments, and a unique feature was that it was intended to deodorize and disinfect the room in which it was installed.

True Cost of Lightbulbs

The original source of this infographic content is located at lamps.com.