Invention

In 1902, Willis Haviland Carrier in Buffalo, New York creates the first modern electrical air conditioning unit.  While working for the Buffalo Forge Company, Carrier grew bored with his everyday work.  He eventually experimented with air conditioning as a means to solve a problem for a publishing company.

Carrier’s design sought to improve control in a printing plant.  Instead of just controlling temperature, Carrier wanted desperately to control humidity, so that the ink in the printing plant wouldn’t run on paper.  Instead of sending air through hot coils with steam, he used cold water in coils.  The air blowing through the coils cooled the air (due to the cold water in the coil), thus controlling the humidity and the temperature in the surrounding area.  The low heat and humidity allowed for the ink to be properly aligned, allowing for the printing plant to become far more efficient than previously.  By 1928, air conditioning had reached refrigerators, thus changing the way that Americans preserve their food.

Although Carrier did create the first electrical air conditioner, it was Stuart W. Cramer of North Carolina who advanced the technology.  He is also the man responsible for creating the term “air conditioning.”  He had previously held experiments in which he added moisture to the air to his textile mills.  Willis Carrier adopted the term and incorporated it into the name of his own company, The Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America.[1]

The next page shows how air conditioning works, but I would like to take a second and mention how air conditioning reached out to cars.  The first cars to ever include air conditioning were invented in 1933, and they actually had the cool air rise up underneath from the floor of the car.  This was especially important to people who traveled a lot, since it was during this time period that people were going to national parks and other sites to visit.  The bigger the car engine, the hotter the inside of the cab would get.  As time went on, this became extremely important.  Most of the first cars in 1933 to receive air coditioning were in limousines and other high end cars, but air conditioning could be added to any car.[2]


[1] Lou Kren, “The History of Air Conditioning,” Properties Magazine, Inc 130 (Winter 1997): 24-42.

[2] “First Air Conditioned Auto,” Popular Science Magazine (November 1933): 30-31.

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