Who Invented the Air Conditioner?

The son of a farmer from upstate New York is responsible for the invention of the world’s first modern air conditioner. The air conditioner you may have in your Ft. Smith home may not be the same air conditioner he created, but the concept very much is. In 1902, one year after graduating with a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University, Willis Haviland Carrier invented air conditioning as we know it today.

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Humble Beginnings

With humble beginnings on a farm in Angola, New York, the solitary youth was spent a lot of time playing unique games of his own invention. As a young child, Carrier spent a large amount of time breaking down problems into solvable parts. Later, this skill would serve Carrier well, as he became known as a genius with a knack for problem-solving. It is reported that Carrier would sometimes work on problems for a year or two before coming up with a solution.

Carrier is reported as saying that as a child his mother would ask him to cut apples into halves, quarters, and eighths. Once this was done, she would ask him to subtract and add the parts. For Carrier, this was a learning experience. Carrier claimed that this experience shaped his view of the world and taught him that there was no problem that was too hard. He believed that the route to solving a problem was breaking the problem down into simpler parts.

The Start Of A Career

Later, Carrier attended Cornell University with the help of a four-year scholarship. However, being of little means, Carrier had to earn his room and board by completing odd jobs. Shortly after graduating with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering, Carrier was hired at the Buffalo Forge Company in June of 1901. It is at this time that Carrier began what was to be an illustrious career by designing heating systems. Carrier soon realized that he needed more data to soundly engineer the systems, and so he started his own research program.

Carrier began studying how much heat could be held by air as it was blown across steam-heated pipes. The data collected, informed engineers about how much surface area would be needed to heat any given space. The data proved invaluable and the savings proved immense. The heating system that Carrier was able to engineer with the data saved the company more than $40,000.

The Air Conditioner Is Born

Carrier, out of school for little more than a year, was awarded for his success with a position as the head of his company’s department of experimental engineering. Shortly after earning his new position, Carrier began solving problems regarding humidity and temperature control for the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company.

Several years later, on December 3, 1911, Carrier presented a culmination of his years of work at an annual meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. His “Rational Psychrometric Formulae” intimately tied together the seminal concepts regarding humidity and dew-point temperature. It was this information that made it possible to design air-conditioning systems that respond to temperature control.

Several years later, at the onset of World War I, Carrier’s company made some drastic changes and limited their activities strictly to manufacturing. As a result, seven engineers, including Carrier, collectively began the Carrier Engineering Corporation.

Carrier’s invention lives on in countless Ft. Smith homes and businesses today. His research led to the control of temperature, humidity, ventilation and air quality. Today, his impact can be felt world-wide, and is responsible for profound social, economic and cultural changes.

Interested in taking a closer look at your Ft. Smith, AR HVAC system? Call Mountain Air Cooling & Heating today at (979) 457-4006 today.

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