Thank You Air-Conditioning Inventor(s)-We Appreciate You

Many Portlanders don’t have air conditioning in their homes and rightfully so. Until the last few years, summers in Portland were warm, but not scorching. The past few summers have shown high temperatures especially in the July and August months. Last week there were three heat records broken three days in a row.  “Thursday’s 99 degrees was the hottest in the history of August 18ths in Portland. Friday’s 100 followed suit. Saturday also broke 100 degrees, rounding out the streak.

Those who don’t have air-conditioning in their homes are surely grateful for their offices that do and large shopping malls. There are people who literally go to grocery stores to walk the isles just to breathe in cool air before heading home to sleep sin clothes, on top of the covers of their bed.

Modern air-conditioning was invented in 1902 in Buffalo, New York by Willis Carrier. An engineer at the Buffalo Forge Company, Carrier was tasked by a publishing company (Sackett-Wilhelms) to help them with ‘summer issues.’  When it got extremely hot outside, the inside of the press also became hot. Anything printed became wrinkled, runny, and a straight-up mess.

“Carrier’s invention controlled not only temperature but also humidity. [He] used his knowledge of the heating of objects with steam and reversed the process. Instead of sending air through hot coils, he sent it through cold coils (filled with cold water). The air was cooled, and thereby the amount of moisture in the air could be controlled, which in turn made the humidity in the room controllable.”

Carrier was a forward-moving agent of this process but not the only one involved. The history of air conditioning has quite the timeline. While learning about this topic I found various timelines but the most thorough one (and hoping most reliable) is one compiled by The US Department of Energy. On the timeline which is pretty chill, it makes 1851 the year of air-conditioning’s beginning-the year when mechanical refrigeration took shape. Essentially without refrigerator and heater knowledge we may have never had air-conditioning. Some timelines took it even further back then this-attributing Ben Franklin and his electricity experiments and findings around the year of 1740 to air-conditioning we know and love.

Just like any great product there are variations and developments. The air-conditioning intellectual property world is vast. However, the most historical/forward-moving patents for air-conditioning can be narrowed down to about 5.

Title Primary Class Description Inventor Assignee Issue Date Patent No.
Improved Process for the Artificial Production of Ice 62/66; A01H 5/02 (20060101) Ice-making machine John Gorrie ___ May 6, 1851 US8,080
Humidifier or Air Moistening Apparatus 261/16 An apparatus to add moisture to Cramer’s textile mill in order to make textiles easier to process. Cramer also coined the term “air conditioning”. Stuart W. Cramer ___ December 20, 1904 US778,172
Apparatus for Treating Air 96/356 The world’s first spray-type air conditioning equipment. It was designed to humidify or dehumidify air, heating water and cooling. Willis H. Carrier Buffalo Forge Company January 2, 1906 US808,897
Method of Humidifying and Controlling the Humidity and Temperature Thereof 236/44C Air conditioning system with dew-point control Willis H. Carrier Buffalo Forge Company February 3, 1914 US1,085,971
Air conditioner for vehicles 62/151 Vehicle air-conditioning system: the Thermo King. Joseph A. Numero; Frederick M. Jones Thermo Control Company December 1, 1942 US2,303,857


Articles like, “Surviving the Summer without Air Conditioning” or “Today’s Hot Question: Can You Live Without Air Conditioning” have made their way all over newspapers and the internet. Granted clean water and food and shelter are high up there, but air-conditioning has become up there in our must-haves. Maybe 10-15 years ago it would have sound like a ‘first world problem’ but today it’s, “If there’s no air-conditioning there then I’m not going.” and

Let’s take a moment to thank all of the inventors who contributed to air-conditioning as we know it. Attorneys at Mohr Law don’t blow out any more hot air. They are as smart as they are cool. Contact us today for all your Intellectual Property Law needs. Maybe you’re the next best thing since sliced bread, or air-conditioning.



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