The Early Developments of Air Conditioners

by : rsbombard

These days we have been so used to the use of air conditioners that we hardly realize that there was a time when we did not have the unit. In fact work on it began only during the 19th century, which actually isn't that long back. However, what we had then was distinctly different from the kind of devices we use these days. It would be interesting in a way to trace the history of the development of the present day air conditioner. Here are a few milestones of the early years in air conditioning.

1820: Michael Faraday, noted British scientist came up with the idea of liquefying ammonia and then allowing it to evaporate in the air. This would significantly bring down the temperature of the surrounding air.

1842: Dr. John Gorrie, a physician from Florida created ice using compressor technology. This he used to cool the air in his hospital where the patients stayed. He hoped that in course of time his ice making machine would be able to regulate the temperature of entire buildings thus in a way envisioning what we today have as central air conditioners. Gorrie was granted a patent in 185, although the prototype he made had manufacturing defects in that it leaked and was not consistent in its performance. However, he could not develop his device any further as his financier died. When he died in 1855, Dr. Gorrie was an impoverished man. It was not in another 50 years that the technology of air conditioning made any headway.

1906: in Charlotte, North Carolina, a textile mill owner, Stuart W. Cramer was exploring ways in which he can add moisture to the air inside his textile mill. In fact it was Cramer who first coined the term "air conditioning". He used the term in a patent claim where he used "air conditioning" as something analogous to "water conditioning" - a term much in vogue in those days used to describe a procedure which made it much easier to process textiles. What Cramer did was to combine moisture with ventilation so that the air inside the factory is in a way changed or "conditioned". This controlled the humidity which was crucial for any textile mill. Later, Willis Carrier, the father of air conditioners, adopted the term and also included it in the name of his firm.

This was a short introduction of how air conditioners actually started their journey in the early years.