The first mention of air conditioning came in the 1840’s when a doctor and inventor from Florida, Dr. John Gorrie, first suggested it due to his idea that cooling the rooms would help his patients feel better. His first attempt involved bringing ice from frozen lakes in the United States, which of course didn’t always work out. He later developed an invention that used a horse, water, and steam to produce ice that cooled the room. His idea received a patent but eventually fell through. His idea, however, was the beginning of air conditioning as we know it.
Years later, around 1902, a man named Willis Carrier picked back up with the idea of air conditioning. He developed an invention he called “Apparatus for Treating Air” through a need for preventing excess humidity. He later discovered that there was more to treating the air for humidity, and he created Carrier Engineering Corporation to further the development.
The first use of mechanical refrigeration was at the St. Louis World’s Fair just two years after Carrier’s invention. It was used to cool the auditorium and a few other rooms throughout the Missouri State Building. Americans loved the idea so much that it took off, and by 1920 they were sitting in air conditioned movie theaters and restaurants in comfort. However, these systems needed constant updating until Carrier developed a much-improved system in 1922 for the Rivoli Theater in New York. He used different parts such as a compressor, centrifugal chiller and other moving parts that much more reliable and lower in cost.
Air Conditioning Comes to the Homes
Soon another company by the name of Frigidaire came onto the scene and developed a split system room cooler around 1929, as the systems for cooling theaters were too large for homes. Later, General Electric improved Frigidaire’s design for a self-contained room cooler in 1930 that was easy to use. It was also during this time that a company called General Motors also began working on air conditioning by creating refrigerating fluids, which improved the safety of using air conditioners. However, when it was discovered that these fluids were bad for the environment, they were replaced by more environmentally friendly fluids. The air conditioner kept evolving, from window units created by H.H. Schultz and J. Q Sherman to the current models we use today, air conditioning systems have been evolving over the years and will continue doing so.