LEWIS HOWARD LATIMER

LEWIS HOWARD LATIMER

1848-1928

Howard Latimer, the creator of the Latimer Lamp, was bom in Chelsea, Massachusetts, where he was allowed to go to school only until he was 10 years old. When his father left the family in 1858, Lewis quit school and went to work for a legal firm, Crosby & Gould, that specialized in drafting illustrations for inventions waiting to be patented.

Though Latimer was hired as an office boy, his interest in the trade led him to purchase a second¬ hand set of drafting tools.With library books and through friends in the firm,Latimer taught himself the craft of drafting.Latimer’s superb draw¬ ings earned him the position of junior draftsman, and he was quickly promoted to chief draftsman.

Then, when Latimer met Alexander Graham Bell, a friendship formed and Bell asked for drawings of his new inven¬ tion, the telephone. When Bell applied for the patent in 1876, it was Latimer’s drawings that he presented.In 1880, Latimer went to work for the United States Electric Lighting Company in Connecticut.

His fascination with the detail and mechanics of drafting was the same heartfelt interest that he applied to the invention of his own lamp. After learning about the new process of electric lighting, he went to work on inventing improved fil¬ aments.

He was so successful in the pro¬ duction of the new “Latimer Lamp,” that he was then hired to oversee the building of the New York electric light plants. He was also sent to England by Maxim-Weston Elec¬ tric Company to build an incandescent light division.

It was in 1884, after he’d worked with some of the age’s greatest inventors, that Latimer was asked to join a small, elite group of crackerjack inventors called the Edison Pioneers. Working closely with Thomas Edison, this group came to the forefront of the contemporary age of dis¬ covery. Latimer continued with the project to the end of his life.