Fascinating facts about Willis Haviland Carrier
inventor of the air
conditioner in 1902.
Willis Haviland Carrier
AT A GLANCE:
One year after earning a master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell
University in 1901, Willis Haviland Carrier developed and patented the world's
first modern air conditioner. Carrier's invention not only provided comfort at home, but
also allowed for the controlled conditions necessary in many environments: industrial and
DID YOU KNOW?
to patent. Modern prototype. Entrepreneur.
||November 26, 1876 in Angola, New York.
||October 9, 1950
apparatus for washing air and controlling its humidity and
temperature. A system that keeps air cool and dry. Used to enhance
comfort as well as improve industrial processes and products.
(US) issued January 2, 1906
Carrier, Willis Haviland Carrier, ARY,air conditioner,
air-condition, air conditioning, SIPS, history, biography, inventor,
Willis Haviland Carrier did pretty well for a boy who had to slice a peck of apples
into halves, quarters and eighths to grasp the notion of fractions.
Raised on a farm near the snowy eastern shore of Lake Erie in Angola, New York, the
young Carrier grew up as an only child in an extended family of adults including his
grandparents and great aunt. Some described him as a solitary youth who entertained
himself playing games of his own invention. In his adult years, legends grew around him as
a problem-solving genius who sometimes noodled solutions for a year or two. Perhaps that
skill was an outgrowth of his difficulty with fractions. "My mother told me to bring
up a pan of apples from the cellar," Carrier said. "She had me cut them into
halves, quarters and eighths and add and subtract the parts. Fractions took on a new
meaning and I felt as if no problems would be too hard for me - I'd simply break them down
to something simple and they would be easy to solve."
Carrier entered Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. on a four-year scholarship, but he
was forced to earn room and board money by mowing lawns, stoking furnaces, and, during his
senior year, forming a co-op student laundry.
With a degree in mechanical engineering, he found a job at the Buffalo Forge Company in
June, 1901 and began designing heating systems to dry lumber and coffee. Carrier realized
the data available to him or any engineer wasn't sufficient to design soundly engineered
He started his own research program to determine how much heat air would hold as it was
blown across steam-heated pipes. For the first time, the company's engineers could
accurately estimate how much heater surface area was needed to heat a given space. In one
heating system alone, the tables Carrier developed, saved the company $40,000 that had been
spent previously in correcting poorly designed installations.
Carrier, barely a year out of college, was made head of the company's department of
experimental engineering. It was here that he solved his first problem in temperature and
humidity control for the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company in
Even though he was still 13 years away from forming his own air conditioning company,
Carrier exhibited the kind of focused reliance on hard data, combined with a lively vision
and imagination, that would power an industry. He was a dreamer, but he based his dreams
on reality. "I fish only for edible fish, and hunt only for edible game - even in the
The Centennial of the day that a gifted young engineer named Willis H. Carrier invented
modern air conditioning. His invention encompassing the first system to provide
man-made control over temperature, humidity, ventilation and air quality was first
installed as a solution to the quality problems experienced at a Brooklyn printing plant,
Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company. It not only spawned a company and
an industry, but also brought about profound economic, social and cultural changes.
The Entrepreneur from The Great Idea Finder
Carrier, A Century of
from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
1000 Inventions & Discoveries
by Roger Bridgman / Hardcover: 256 pages / Dorling Kindersley
Fascinating stories and vivid photographs and illustrations tell the tales
of the developments in technology and natural science that have shaped our
world. Profiles of the famous (and not-so-famous) men and women who have had
"Eureka!" moments, a running timeline which puts the inventions and
discoveries in historical context
Great Inventions: Geniuses, Gadgets and Gizmos: Innovations in Our Time
by Editors of Time Magazine / Hardcover: 176 pages / Time (October 1,
The editors of TIME tell the fascinating stories behind the most important
innovations of the past 100 years, from computers, space shuttles, and cell
phones, to zippers, Teflon and the Internet.
Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things
by Charles Panati / Paperback - 480 pages Reissue edition
(September 1989) / HarperCollins
Discover the fascinating stories behind the origins of over 500 everyday items,
expressions and customs.
Willis Haviland Carrier Father of Air Conditioning (Limited
by Margaret Ingels / Hardcover: 170 pages / Ayer Co Pub; Reprint edition
(December 1, 1972)
ON THE WEB:
Carrier's early work in developing centrifugal refrigeration machines led to new safe
refrigerants for which he also received several patents. By controlling humidity as well
as temperature, he invented air conditioning as we know it today. Carrier
and several other engineers formed the Carrier Engineering Corporation in
1915 with capital of $35,000.
History of Buffalo
As a young boy, Willis was recognized as inventive and studious. After
chores on the farm, he often burned the midnight oil on self-invented
problems. One friend remembers Willis working on geometry problems outside,
during a snowstorm, unmindful of the weather around him.
The history of air conditioning is a history of Carrier, and there's more
behind the comfort we take for granted on a sweltering summer day than you
Invention Dimension - Inventor of the Week
Celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities
and annual awards to inspire a new generation of American scientists,
engineers, and entrepreneurs.
It took half a century for air conditioning to become accepted and decades
more for it to become universal. Article by T. A. Heppenheimer for Invention
& Technology magazine.
National Inventors Hall of Fame
Located at Inventure Place, the online home of creative minds. Patent
Time 100 - Willis Carrier
So it was the humidity! How a kindly engineer from the
Snowbelt made the Sunbelt boom.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Willis Haviland Carrier really perfected the art of precision cooling.
Article By Bernard
Nagengast for ME magazine.
United Technologies Corporation
United Technologies Corporation (UTC) is a diversified company whose
products include Carrier heating and air conditioning, Hamilton Sundstrand
aerospace systems and industrial products, Otis elevators and escalators,
Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, Sikorsky helicopters, UTC Fire & Security
systems and UTC Power fuel cells.
WORDS OF WISDOM:
"Time spent staring into space while thinking
is not time wasted. " - Willis Carrier
DID YOU KNOW?:
- Some of his early installations include the
Madison Square Garden, the U.S. House and Senate Chambers and the White
- He would install the world's first
residential air conditioning system in a home in Minneapolis, Minn. (I do
not know why.)
trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Sources in BOLD Type.
page revised July 28, 2006.
Berners-Lee's invention has revolutionized the world like nothing
The invention of the Internet,
should be classed with the greatest events of the 20th Century.
The Aero Sport All-Terrain Bed
with Dual Power Pump is the perfect addition to any camping trip or weekend
book, is the perfect desktop reference for both the science novice and the
technologically advanced reader alike.
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