When someone says the words “air conditioner" what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Fans forcing air over tightly wound coils?
Hot summer days and cool shopping malls?
No matter what air conditioning means to you, there is one man that you can thank for it being as prevalent as it is today, and that man is Willis Carrier.
The name Willis Carrier may have rung a bell in your mind because "Carrier" is the name of one of the largest air conditioner manufacturers in the world.
Carrier grew up on a small farm in Angola, New York during the late nineteenth century. He learned to fix machines around the farm, everything from clocks to sewing machines. He also learned about the importance of mathematics from his mother.
Willis eventually received a state scholarship to Cornell University, where he earned a masters degree in mechanical engineering. He went on to work at Buffalo Forge Co., which specialized in manufacturing and servicing heaters, blowers, and exhaust systems.
It was while working as an employee at Buffalo Forge that Willis started thinking about an air conditioner invention.
He was asked to find out why a printing machine was malfunctioning.
He realized that variations in temperature and humidity during the printing process was causing the paper to expand and contract, which made the ink smudge.
Willis decided that the best way to address this problem was to control the temperature during the printing process.
It was his development of a prototype machine that controlled temperature and humidity that led to his invention of the air conditioner.
Willis was not the first person to create an air conditioner, but his invention worked better, safer, and more reliably than any other similar apparatus at the time.
In 1915, Willis and a group of investors established the Carrier Engineering Company, which has grown into a multi-billion dollar air conditioner and refrigeration business.
Over time, Willis began to build more of his systems for numerous commercial applications - from food services to refrigerated transport, manufacturing plants to department stores.
The ability to export perishables all over the world, and to build skyscrapers in places too hot to sustain them previously, were great achievements.
Carrier's air conditioner invention even helped man land on the moon.