Willis Carrier: The Man Behind The Air Conditioner

a photo of a woman turning on her air conditioning

We take the majority of our modern conveniences for granted. The sensory experience is available to manipulate by way of our fingertips. We light our homes by flipping a switch and adjust the temperature in a room by turning a dial on our air conditioning.

The idea of controlling the temperature of the indoor environment is not a modern one, and dates all the way back to ancient Egypt and Rome. However, it was not until 1902 that electromechanical cooling came into play:

An Important Lesson

A New York native, Willis Carrier was born on November 26, 1876. Carrier struggled, as many young children do, to understand fractions growing up. To help him learn, his mother would cut whole apples into parts to represent fractions pieces. Carrier claimed that this was his most important lesson growing up as it provided him with the skills of creative problem-solving, which helped him create the Air Conditioner.

Struck by Genius

In 1902, Carrier found himself outside on a foggy Pittsburgh train platform. Staring into the mist ahead, he realized he could dry air by passing it through water to create fog. This would make it possible to manufacture air with specific amounts of moisture in it. He completed his invention to control humidity within a year and created the fundamental theory for modern air conditioning.

Global Comfort

Early in his career, Carrier discovered the three things that would set the value of air conditioning: climate, comfort and production quality. With this in mind, Carrie began to create a network of international distributor, dealers and customers to help expand and sell his invention. Early installations of the new invention in Europe and Asia were a success and proved how universal his invention had become.

One man’s flash of insight in 1902 would forever change the standard of living, and without Carrier, we would all be significantly sweatier.