In the latter half of the 19th century, Gustave Pierre Trouvé, a modest but brilliant Parisian electrical engineer, conceived and patented some 75 inventions, many of which had a lasting and revolutionising effect on science, society and people’s everyday lives. Unlike his famous contemporary Nikola Tesla, who worked for Thomas Edison and was patronised by George Westinghouse, Trouvé never went to America. A confirmed bachelor disinterested in industrialisation, he was gradually forgotten following his accidental death in 1902.

In many ways, Trouvé was ahead of his time. Many of his inventions are precursors to common objects of modern everyday life. The headlamps he invented are now used in sports and for camping. His electric jewellery pieces inspired today’s LED technology. His inventions also include the endoscope, the electric car, the electric rifle, an electric piano and luminous fountains, ultraviolet light therapy, and an electric boat – complete with outboard motor, headlight and horn.

After months of campaigning by Trouvé biographer Kevin Desmond, the inventor’s life and legacy were honoured with a commemorative plaque installed outside Trouvé’s home in a narrow side street in the heart of Paris. The marble plaque was officially unveiled on 15th October in front of some twenty guests, with Mr Desmond, Jacques Boutault – the Mayor of the 2e Arrondissement – and Anne Hidalgo – the Mayor of Paris – in attendance. Until now only a few select plaques have been unveiled in the 2ème district of the French capital, commemorating Molière and Emile Zola (writers), Edith Piaf (singer) Toulouse-Lautrec (painter), and Sigmund Freud (psychoanalyst).

If you want to find out more about Gustave Trouvé and his work, you can order Gustave Trouvé: French Electrical Genius (1839-1902) here

Pulling the String Plaque