19. Lewis Howard Latimer (1848–1928)

Notable invention: Water closet

Before serving as Thomas Edison's original draftsman and sketching invention plans for Alexander Graham Bell, Latimer was best known for improving the railroad toilet system with the water closet. For those brand new to 18th and 19th century jargon, it's a flush toilet. He would also create a method to make carbon filaments for the electric lamp and become the only African American member of the engineering division at the Edison Company. Makes you wonder if Edison stole borrowed any ideas from him.