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Q: “Who invented air conditioning?”

Written on: July 15th, 2012 by: cathay in Q & A's

Q:  “Who invented air conditioning?  I’d like to thank that person!  Is he or she still alive?”

The idea of cooling air is attributed to Dr. Gorrie who, while working on helping patients fighting yellow fever in the 1800s, came up with the invention that led to refrigeration.  This is a huge first-step toward today’s modern air conditioning that, as of 2009, is in eighty-three percent of U.S.Carrier, Father of air conditioning homes, according to the National Public Radio’s 2011 article titled, “The Long, Hot Road to Modern Air Conditioning” by Sam Sanders.  And

NPR somewhat attributes the invention to Willis Carrier (image shown on the right), who was a leading force behind such inventions.  But like with many of the best discoveries and gadgets, one idea led to another and many people were involved.  In fact, according to Sanders, a “scientist named William Cullen is credited with demonstrating the first artificial refrigeration in 1748 at the University of Glasgow.”

Carrier is best known for his work on air conditioning as we know it today.  He grew up in New York and studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University in the early 1900s.  His work on measuring heating systems led to cooling, and after more than a decade of research, to reducing humidity in air while cooling it.

“The Great Idea Finder” website offers brief biographical features on inventors such as Carrier.   As stated there, “He was a dreamer, but he based his dreams on reality.”  They quote him saying, “I fish only for edible fish, and hunt only for edible game – even in the laboratory.”  See also the site, American Inventors regarding Willis Carrier.

Another important person involved with shaping the mechanics and portability of air conditioning as it is today is Frederick Jones.’s website mentions his work as pertaining mostly to refrigeration, but “His portable air conditioner was used in World War II to preserve medicine and blood serum.”  The specialty of the air conditioning Jones worked on also led to automatic refrigeration in long-haul trucks that we see on the road today, according to the site “Famous Black Inventors”.

Inventors like Carrier are life-long learners, building upon today’s ideas to create better futures.  Like libraries, they adjust and adapt, share and develop ways to to reach communities everywhere.  Carrier was a visionary (he died in 1950) and saw opportunities to improve the quality of life through steamy summers and in hot climates.

Now, environmentally sound methods are being explored such as those discussed on the site, “Green Living Ideas“.  Thanks to Carrier, Jones, and other great mechanical engineers, scientists, environmentalists, and concerned citizens, we can continue to further build upon this simple idea of chilling the air and reducing humidity in our homes, libraries, offices, hospitals, shops, schools –  even when the local meteorologist is calling for triple digit heat indexes.

Stay cool!