“Like the Light of the Sun”: Lewis Latimer in the Electrical World
The National Electronics Museum presents our newest temporary exhibit on Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928), one of the pioneers of electrical lighting. The son of escaped slaves, Latimer rose to prominence in the late nineteenth century as a draftsman, engineer, and inventor. His career began at the dawn of the age of electric lighting started by Thomas Edison, first as a competitor and then as a key member of Edison General Electric and member of the Edison Pioneers.
The exhibit will highlight objects from the Chad Shapiro Collection including correspondence between Latimer and Thomas Edison, examples of early light bulbs and equipment associated with Latimer’s career, a rare example of Latimer’s book, and even a example of Latimer’s poetry written in his own hand.
“The Pace Collection: Unique and Rarely Seen NASA Apollo Mission Hardware” The exhibit featured an eclectic mix of artifacts from a private collection. Don’t forget the Museum also has on permanent display the Westinghouse Apollo XI lunar TV camera.
Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) is often called America’s greatest inventor, holding over 1,000 patents. He is credited with the phonograph, the motion picture camera, the stock ticker, and much of the infrastructure for public electric utilities. Although best known for the incandescent light, his greatest contribution to science may have been his frenzied, but brief period directing work at Menlo Park. Menlo Park was the first one of the first industrial research laboratories, where teamwork and mass production were the catalyst for invention.
Edison’s work did not go unchallenged. Soon after he introduced the incandescent bulb competitors vied for a piece of the lighting market launching Edison on a series of bitter and often lengthy patent battles. In the meantime Edison’s direct current (DC) system fell out of favor, replaced by Westinghouse’s alternating current (AC) system. Edison ultimately left both the lighting business and Menlo Park but his legacy was set.