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The History of Air Conditioning

July 12, 2021

If you happen to live in the United States, you have probably had the heat on the brain. In the Summer of 2021, it was a whopping 130 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley National Park. That's a record high temperature, and there's no sign of it cooling down any time soon.  

Even those of us in Denver have been feeling the heat. Calls for Denver AC Repairs and AC Installation have been coming in non-stop. When things heat up, we're all grateful for the invention of the air conditioner! 

As it turns out, the History of Air Conditioning is unexpectedly fascinating. Have you ever wondered where this modern convenience came from? It's difficult to believe there was a time before air conditioning existed! 

You've heard of AP History. Get ready for some AC History! Read on to learn about how the air conditioner was born, as well as where it is going in the future. 

A Cool History of Air Conditioning

We think of air conditioning as a strictly human invention. It is a modern comfort that many take for granted. The first air conditioner had less to do with creature comforts and a lot more to do with taming temperamental technology:

The First AC

Think about all of the things that go wonky when it gets hot outside. Doors and windows stick. Even instruments go out of tune.

The first air conditioner came to be in response to a problem with a color printer. The Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographic and Publishing Company, located in Brooklyn, found themselves amid a heatwave. As a result, their machinery wasn't functioning, and their pages were coming out blurry. 

They knew that they needed a way to eliminate some of the humidity that was causing their paper to swell in the heat. A young engineer named Willis Carrier got to work on the problem.

Carrier devised a device that used fans to direct the humidity, causing it to condense on a series of chilled coils. That not only eliminated the excess humidity but cooled the room. That made the machines more effective, but it had a bonus. 

The human employees at Sackett-Wilhelms became more comfortable, too! The printers were running, the employees were happy, and the first air conditioner was born! 

Improving the AC

The first AC was not necessarily the best. 

Like any good engineer, Carrier continued to work on the problem. His goal was to create a more efficient and effective cooling system. The current model was large and cumbersome, and he knew that he was capable of improvement. 

It was 1922 when the idea for the first Centrifugal Refrigeration Compressor came to him. It solved all of the problems that made the originally AC impractical for use in most buildings. It is a direct descendent of the units that we use for air conditioning today. 

Most individuals credit the 25-year old Carrier as the father of the modern Air Conditioning unit. While there is truth to this, it's not entirely correct. One hundred years earlier, a doctor named John Gorrie had created a similar device. 

Why is Carrier's name in the museums and archives instead of Gorrie's?  At the time, Americans were still making ice in the north and shipping it to the south. With the addition of the air conditioner, those ice makers would have been out of business. 

Ice makers kept shipping ice and put Gorrie out of business instead. Poor Dr. Gorrie would die hot and penniless, leaving Carrier to claim the glory. 

JD's Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning Denver, CO

Free Download: What to Do When Your AC Goes Out?
 

AC Goes to the Movies

One hundred years later, the ice shipping industry was no longer threatened. Many other business owners found the latest cooling technology intriguing, however. Some wondered how it would improve their production, while others worried that the AC was a threat.

The American population was not yet convinced that air conditioning was the way of the future. That happened in an unexpected place - the Nickelodeon movie houses that were popular at the time. 

Today, many of us escape to the movie theater on overwhelmingly hot or humid days. Carrier's compressor was a feature of movie theaters as early as 1919. This helped attract middle and upper-class families to the cinema and might be the reason we still bring a sweater with us when we go to the movies today!

The Industrial Revolution

The 1950s, after WWII, would usher in the start of the Industrial Revolution. Household appliances and improvements would become all the rage. Post-war, the air conditioner was finally affordable enough to become a fixture in the average American home. 

From there, Carrier's simple invention had become pervasive. It became rare to find a home without an AC unit. Now that the technology was both available and affordable, it seemed silly to live without it! 

bedroom modern blue decor with wall ac unit

When Is The Best Time For An Air Conditioning Replacement?
 

The Air Conditioner Today

The air conditioner has only become more popular since the 1950s. As things heat up, we're desperate to cool things down. 

Technology is improving at a rapid rate. It may be challenging to predict just how far air conditioning might come in the next few years. 

Luckily, AC repair professionals, like the experts at JD'S Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning, are always up to date on the latest technology. If you're in the Denver area, you won't have to go without AC for long! 

The Best Denver AC Repairs and AC Installation

The history of air conditioning has come a long way since Carrier introduced the first unit in Brooklyn. Even so, air conditioning is still a mystery to many homeowners. That includes Denver homeowners with AC units!

If you're seeking Denver AC repairs or initial AC Installation, JD's Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning can help you out. JD's experts are familiar with the ins and outs of the modern air conditioner. Reach out today, and an AC expert will do their best to help cool things down for you!

You May Want to Read: 6 Signs You Need a New Air Conditioner 

Trust the Denver Plumbing Experts, Schedule Service Today!

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