On July 17, 1902 Willis Carrier invented the first air conditioner. Since that time, air conditioning units have become commonplace in American homes, businesses, schools, and automobiles. Continue reading to learn about the man who brought comfort to the world.
The Early Years
Willis Carrier was born November 26, 1876, in the town of Angola, New York. When Carrier was a boy, he struggled to master the concept of fractions. His mother recognized his struggle and came up with an alternative, hands-on method to help him learn; she cut up whole apples into different sized sections and applied it to fractions. Later, Carrier said this was the single most valuable lesson he learned because it taught him the importance of intelligent problem solving.
In 1901, Willis Carrier graduated from Cornell University with a degree in mechanical engineering. Shortly after, he secured a job with the Buffalo Forge Company. It was there that he was given Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company as a client. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, the company was having trouble with humidity interfering with their printing processes. Carrier went to work to solve their dilemma. One day in 1902, Carrier was standing on a train platform staring out into the fog when inspiration struck. He realized that by running dry air through fog you could control the amount of humidity in the air. He knew that air could be warmed and humidified by sending it through hot coils, so he worked to reverse the process. He sent air through coils filled with cold water. The process worked, the air was cooled, and the humidity was controlled.
Carrier’s invention successfully resolved the printing company’s humidity problem. Later, his technology was used to increase the productivity in workplaces by making employees more comfortable. As a result, the demand for his air conditioners skyrocketed. It wasn’t long before air conditioners were being used in homes, cars, and a variety of manufacturing practices.
Today, air conditioners precise control of temperature and humidity has enabled the progress of many inventions and developments like transatlantic flights, computers, and the servers that power the Internet.