Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928) was an African American draftsman, engineer, and inventor. Latimer helped Alexander Graham Bell to develop plans for the first telephone. His most important invention was the development of the first electric light bulb, in which he worked with Thomas Edison. His invention made it possible for households to have lighting. Latimer's invention of the filament was also very important to the light bulb. The filament is the very fine, threadlike material in a light bulb that glows when electricity passes through it. The hotter the filament gets, the brighter the light shines.
Some of Latimer's other accomplishments were that he wrote the first book on electric lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System. It was published in 1890. This book helped lighting engineers throughout the world. Latimer also made it possible for all railroad cars to have toilets and he improved their electrical lamps. Other achievements included bringing electric lighting to office buildings, homes, subway stations, and railroad cars. Finally in 1918, Latimer was named a character member of the Edison Pioneers, an organization that honored the people considered to be "creators of the electric industry."
Although Latimer was famous for helping Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and creating his own inventions, he still experienced many hardships in his life. Latimer's parents escaped slavery by fleeing from the state of Virginia. When he was only ten years old, Latimer's father deserted the family. His mother then separated his brothers and sisters, sending them to live in foster homes. Latimer then fought in the Union navy during the Civil War and received an honorable discharge.
It is apparent that in spite of all of his obstacles, Latimer's hard work and effort paid off.
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