I found myself, recently, thinking a lot about air conditioning. It seems that the air conditioner at work, which has had problems for many years, finally bit the dust. This left us suffering inside trying to fill the compounds coming into the pharmacy. I recently had to have my home unit serviced and Freon added. When I was a child we used an attic fan and had no central air.
I used some of my hay baling money, as a teenager, and bought a window unit for my room. I decided to see where the idea of air conditioning started. It seems that in 1758, Benjamin Franklin and Cambridge University professor John Hadley discovered that evaporation of
alcohol and other volatile liquids, which evaporate faster than water, can cool down an object enough to freeze water. Inventor Michael Faraday, in 1820, makes the same discovery in England when he compresses and liquifies ammonia. In the 1830’s, Dr. John Gorrie built an ice making machine that uses compression to make buckets of ice and then blows water over them in the Florida hospital where he worked.
In 1851 he would patent his invention but had no financial backing. After President James Garfield is shot, July 2, 1881, naval engineers builds a makeshift cooling unit to keep him comfortable. The device could lower the room temp by 20 degrees but used a half million pounds of ice in 2 months. Oh yeah, and the President still died.
In 1902, Willis H. Carrier invented the first modern air conditioning system that blew air over cold coils to control room temperature and humidity. The unit was for Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Co. in Brooklyn, N.Y.
and kept paper from wrinkling and the ink aligned. He would establish the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America. Stuart Cramer, a textile mill engineer in North Carolina 1906, coins the term “air conditioning”. He created a ventilating device to add water to the air of textile plants.
This humidity makes yarn easier to spin and less likely to break. It was 1914 when a unit was installed in the Minneapolis mansion of Charles Gates. This was the first in a home and was 7 feet high, 6 feet wide, 20 feet long. In 1931, H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman invented the individual room air conditioner that sits on the window ledge.
They were a little pricey at 10 to 50 thousand dollars each. In 1939, Packard introduced the first ever car air conditioner. In 1942, The United States builds it’s first “summer peaking” power plant, to handle the load of air conditioners.
The greatest contribution to civilization in this century may well be air-conditioning—and America leads the way.British scholar S.F. Markham (1947)
More than 1 million units were sold in 1953 alone. The window unit sales slow in the 1970’s as central air systems become the thing. They use R-12, commonly known as Freon-12, as the refrigerant.