Cowen, Joshua Lionel
- Daniel M. Dumych
Cowen, Joshua Lionel (25 August 1877–08 September 1965), inventor and manufacturer, was born in New York City, the son of Hymen Nathan Cowen, a hat maker and real-estate dealer, and Rebecca Kantrowitz, a shopkeeper. Cowen’s love for tinkering became apparent early in his life, when he would break apart toys to see how they worked. Unfortunately for his sisters, their dolls were not immune from these investigations. Curious why the dolls’ eyes opened and shut, young Joshua broke open their bisque heads to find the answer. Unwilling to surrender himself to the discipline of school, he often skipped classes. Valuing education too highly to let him drop out, his father enrolled him in the Peter Cooper Institute (later Cooper Union). There he was able to work with electricity and even invented what he claimed was the first doorbell. His unimpressed instructor told Cowen that nothing would ever replace the simple act of knocking on a door to announce one’s arrival....