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Lewis Howard Latimer (September 4, 1848 - December 11, 1928) was an African American inventor and draftsman. Though Thomas Alva Edison is credited with the invention of the lightbulb, Latimer made significant contributions to its further development. He joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 15 on September 16,1864. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy on July 3, 1865, he gained employment as an office boy with a patent law firm, Crosby Halstead and Gould, with a $3.00 per week salary. He learned how to use an L square, ruler, and other tools.

Later, after his boss recognized his talent for sketching patent drawings, Latimer was promoted to the position of head draftsman earning $20.00 a week by 1878. In 1874, he copatented (with Charles W. Brown) an improved toilet system for railroad cars called the Water Closet for Railroad Cars, the first of many patents. In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell employed Latimer to draft the necessary drawings required to receive a patent for Bell's telephone. Latimer received a patent in January 1881 for the "Process of Manufacturing Carbons", an improved method for the production of carbon filaments for lightbulb.

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