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A Brief History of the Air Conditioner

Where would we be without our air conditioners? Central Texas air conditioning is a must for those of us lucky enough to call this area home. And when they go “on the fritz,” especially during the sweltering summer months, it’s a serious emergency.

Have you ever wondered how something so necessary got its start in the first place? Well, look no further! We’ve got a quick glance back at this most precious of Texas resources.

1758 – Benjamin Franklin and Cambridge University professor John Hadley discover that evaporation of alcohol and other volatile liquids, which evaporate faster than water, can cool down an object enough to freeze water.

1820 – Inventor Michael Faraday makes the same discovery in England when he compresses and liquefies ammonia.

1830s – While working at a Florida hospital, Dr. John Gorrie builds an ice-making machine which uses compression to make buckets of ice and then blows air over them. He patents the idea in 1851, imagining his invention cooling buildings all over the world. Unfortunately, no one else has the same imagination and his dream evaporates.

1881 – When US President James Garfield is assassinated on July 2, naval engineers build a makeshift cooling unit to keep him cool. The device is filled with water-soaked cloth and a fan blows hot air overhead to force cool air closer to the ground. There’s good news and bad news: This new device can lower room temperature by up to 20 degrees, but it uses a half-million pounds of ice in two months.

1906 – Stuart Cramer, a textile mill engineer in North Carolina, creates a ventilating device that adds water vapor to the air of textile plants. He’s the first to call this process “air conditioning.”

1914 – Air conditioning comes home for the first time. The unit in the Minneapolis mansion of Charles Gates is approximately 7 feet high, 6 feet wide, 20 feet long and possibly never used because no one ever lived in the house.

1931 – H.H. Schultz and J.Q. Sherman invent an individual room air conditioner that sits on a window ledge—a design that’s been ubiquitous in apartment buildings ever since.

1947 – British scholar S.F. Markham writes, “The greatest contribution to civilization in this century may well be air-conditioning.”

1950s – In post-World War II economic prosperity, residential air conditioning becomes a way to ‘keep up with the Joneses.’ More than 1 million units are sold in 1953 alone.

1970s – Central air conditioning comes into its own, and becomes the widely used “necessity” it is today.

If you find your air conditioning not operating so well, give 1st AC and Heating a call so we can repair it before it gets too hot. 1st AC and Heating will dispatch licensed HVAC technicians to all areas of Austin, Buda, Kyle and San Marcos, TX. Before you know it, those sweltering summer months will be upon us.

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