Nowadays, air conditioners are one of the most common things in our lives, almost everyone has one at their home or office, but it wasn’t always like this, in fact the technology that made the air conditioning industry cheap and accessible to us all was developed quite recently in human history, the process of its creation was quite complex and had a lot of interesting moments, here are some interesting facts about it:
The first known research on cooling industry was made in 1758, when Benjamin Franklin (yes, the man behind electricity) and Cambridge University professor John Hadley discovered that evaporation of alcohol and other substances could cool down an object until freezing point, of course, this discovery was very far away from air conditioning units as we know them today, but it was the first breakthrough for the industry.
Almost a century later, in 1830, Dr John Gorrie of a small Florida hospital, invented a machine that could use big blocks of ice to cool down a room, this was the first known device that can be compared to the technology that we know today, but unfortunately, Dr Gorrie couldn’t make his invention prosper due to lack of funding.
In 1881, when the United States President James Garfield was shot at and wounded, some naval engineers created a cooling unit to keep him cool and comfortable while he was being treated, this machine could lower the temperature of a room in an impressive way, unfortunately it needed a gigantic quantity of ice to work, and then President Garfield died anyway.
Sometime later, Dr Willis Carrier invented a machine to control the temperature and humidity in the publishing factory where he worked, his invention was very useful for keeping paper from wrinkling and ink aligned, Willis invention revolutionized the printing industry, he then founded the world’s first air conditioner company: the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America. The newly founded Carrier company entrenched itself when Dr Willis designed and implemented a cooling system for a Broadway theater, until then the theaters were only patronized in winter with a 6 month season as it was far too uncomfortable in summer. Carrier designed the first centrifugal chiller for Sid Graumans Metropolitan Theater in Los Angeles delivering comfort air conditioning which soon swept the entire theater industry.
Air conditioning technology gained momentum in industrial factories, however its price and complexity precluded the product from homes, until 1914, when a residential unit was installed in the Minneapolis mansion of Charles Gates, but the unit was so big (and no one ever lived in the mansion) that it was never used.
The air conditioner made its arrival at homes in 1931, when a single room unit was invented, 8 years later in 1939 the first car with an air conditioning unit was created, but the units were extremely expensive and could only be purchased by the wealthy, until the post-World War II economic boom, were the technology started being sold by the millions.
The cooling industry has quite a history, from Benjamin Franklin, to the assassination of a US President and Willis Carrier, a lot has happened so that we could all enjoy the pleasure of a cool environment in hot summers.
Here at Penrith Air Supply, we are very proud for being a small (but productive) part of that history.
So, the next time you turn on the air conditioning unit at your living room, remember all the history and innovation behind it!