The flashlight was invented by Joshua Lionel Cowen in 1899. Cowen was an American inventor and businessman who is credited with creating the first portable electric flashlight. His design used a dry cell battery and a small incandescent light bulb, which made it possible to carry a light source with you and use it hands-free. Prior to Cowen's invention, portable light sources such as lanterns or candle holders were used, but they were not as convenient or efficient as the flashlight. Cowen's invention revolutionized the way people used light and had a significant impact on personal safety, as well as many other applications.