Joshua Lionel Cowen (August 25, 1877-September 8, 1965), born Joshua Lionel Cohen, was an American inventor and the cofounder of Lionel Corporation, a manufacturer of model railroads and toy trains.
Cowen invented the flash-lamp in 1899, an early photographer's flash light source. He did not invent the flashlight as many sources say. David Misell, a British subject, did patent it - in turn immediately selling it to Conrad Hubert, the person that introduced it to the world through his novelty shop that eventually became Ever Ready Company.
The eighth of nine children of Jewish immigrants and a college dropout (he enrolled both at Columbia University and the City College of New York), Cowen received his first patent in 1899, for a device that ignited a photographer's flash. The same year, Cowen received a defense contract from the United States Navy to produce mine fuses that netted him $12,000. The following year, Cowen and one of his partners founded Lionel Corporation in New York City.