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Celebrating One of Summer’s Most Important Inventions: Modern Air Conditioning



From sports to ice cream to the beach, the staples of summer form the basis of treasured memories. But it’s one of summer’s most important inventions that comes to mind when the temperatures soar, making even the most oppressive summer - cool. It is hard to imagine life without it.

This year marks the 109th anniversary of the invention of modern air conditioning by Dr. Willis H. Carrier, inventor and founder of Carrier Corp., the world’s leader in high technology heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions and a unit of United Technologies (UTX). On July 17, 1902 in the midst of a steamy summer, Carrier developed and later patented the first modern system to provide man-made control over temperature, humidity, ventilation and indoor air. From there, his innovation created an industry dedicated to making the world a cooler place to live, work and play. In celebration of this historic anniversary, here a few facts about Willis Carrier, inventor and entrepreneur:

*Even though it’s a people-pleaser, Carrier’s original invention was designed for paper - not comfort. A Brooklyn, N.Y. printing plant challenged Carrier to stabilize the temperature and moisture in the air so the dimensions of the paper would remain constant and the different color inks would line up correctly. This innovation gave birth to the air conditioning industry.
*“Industrial conditioning” was the primary focus of Carrier’s early work, helping many manufacturers out of sticky situations, including chewing gum factories. If the air was too warm and moist, the gum was too sticky to cut; if the air was too cool and dry the gum sheets were brittle and shattered.
*Carrier first applied air conditioning to a residence in 1914, and later introduced the Carrier Room Weathermaker in 1932. However consumers were slow to embrace the idea. In fact, Fortune magazine recently reprinted an article from its archives with the headline, “Air conditioning remains a prime public disappointment of the 1930s.” What a difference a few decades has made. Today air conditioning is found in more than 85 percent of U.S. homes.
*Willis Carrier is referred to as the Father of Cool, and with good reason. Over his career, he had a number of industry “firsts,” including applying modern air conditioning to department stores (J.L. Hudson’s, Detroit), movie theaters (Rivoli Theater, New York City), office buildings (T.W. Patterson Building, Fresno, Calif.), ships (S.S. Victoria), railroad cars (Martha Washington dining car), the chambers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and even the bus from Bagdad to Damascus just to name a few.
*Though a genius, Carrier struggled with math as a child – particularly fractions. To help him grasp the concept, his mother had him cut apples into halves, quarters and eighths and then add and subtract the parts. He later went on to develop the “Rationale Psychrometric Formulae” that calculates dew point control. This formula still forms the basis for modern air conditioning.

“Willis Carrier solidified his place in history by meeting the challenges of indoor air control. He started an industry and fostered the success of many other industries with his pioneering innovation. His unrelenting passion for solving problems continues to inspire our employees today as we focus on building on a strong legacy of sustainability and innovation,” said Geraud Darnis, president, Carrier Corp. “Willis wouldn’t have it any other way.”

For more information on Willis Carrier, the history of modern air conditioning and Carrier Corp.’s work in the industry today, visit

About Carrier Corp.
Carrier Corp. is the world’s leader in high technology heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions. Carrier experts provide sustainable solutions, integrating energy efficient products, building controls, and energy services for residential, commercial, retail, transport and foodservice customers. Founded by the inventor of modern air conditioning, Carrier improves the world around us through engineered innovation and environmental stewardship. Carrier is a unit of United Technologies Corp., a leading provider to the aerospace and building systems industries worldwide. Visit for more information.


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