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Conrad Hubert

AKA Akiba Horowitz

Born: 15-Apr-1856
Birthplace: Minsk, Russia
Died: 12-Mar-1928
Location of death: Cannes, France
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Flashlights

Russian immigrant Akiba Horowitz changed his name to Conrad Hubert when he came to America, where he ran a cigar store, and later a restaurant, a boarding house, and finally a novelty shop. At the novelty shop, his best-selling item was a battery-powered flashing tie clasp. With the development of smaller, more powerful "D" cell batteries, it became practical to carry a hand-held battery-powered torch or "flash light", so called because the battery was only able to sustain light for a few seconds.

The flashlight was invented by David Misell, a British man working in Hubert's New York shop in 1898. Little is known about Misell, but he had previously invented a wooden-cased signal light and a bicycle light, and he assigned the flashlight's patent rights to Hubert's new business, American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company, which marketed flashlights under the Ever Ready brand name, and eventually became the American Ever Ready Company. (Numerous sources claim that the flashlight was invented by Joshua Lionel Cowen, of Lionel toy trains fame, but beyond the fact that both Cowen and Hubert lived in New York City in the late 1890s, there is scant evidence to support this story. Cowen invented a flash lamp, a completely different device that used electricity to set off a small chemical reaction, creating the flash needed for indoor portrait photography.)

Hubert later made several improvements to flashlight technology, and within a few years he was a millionaire. He never married, and at his death in 1928 he left the bulk of his fortune -- about $8M -- to the Conrad Hubert Fund, with the stipulation that the money be dispensed jointly by a Protestant, a Catholic, and a Jew. After his death, these slots were filled by former President Calvin Coolidge, former New York Governor Alfred E. Smith, and former Sears Roebuck executive Julius Rosenwald, who distributed Hubert's fortune to thirty-four charities. American Ever Ready has evolved into the present-day Energizer Holdings.

    Energizer Holdings Founder and President (1898-1918)
    Naturalized US Citizen 1891
    Russian Ancestry


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