Willis Carrier Conditions Air

 In July of 1902 in Buffalo, New York, Willis Carrier invented modern air conditioning. At the time Carrier was working for the Buffalo Forge Company.  The Cornell University graduate was working on the problem of controlling both temperature and humidity within the working environment at the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company in Brooklyn, New York. Sackett-Wilhems was having problems with paper curling in the hot, humid conditions of New York City summers. By controlling temperature and humidity, Carrier’s invention helped maintain consistent paper dimensions and ink alignment.


Ironically, his inspiration came to him on a cold, foggy train platform in Pittsburgh. By working with his counterintuitive insight that he could dry air by creating fog, Carrier laid the foundation for all modern air conditioning systems.  His invention was the world’s first spray-type air-conditioning system able to both wash and humidify or dehumidify air. The fundamental building block for modern AC was now in place.


By 1905, Willis Carrier was head of engineering at Buffalo Forge directing research and supervising all application and design. In 1906 he predicted that air conditioning would find other workplace applications including “comfort” applications for churches, cinemas, and other public places.


1907 saw Carrier systems installed by a pharmaceutical manufacturer in Detroit and a silk mill in upstate New York but the biggest business advance that year was the first international sale of air-conditioning systems to Fuji Silk Spinning of Japan. Carrier’s work with Japanese buildings led to the first completely air-conditioned ship, launched in 1937, the Koan Maru.


In 1914, air conditioning allowed Allegheny General Hospital to establish the first incubator room capable of providing a comfortable, healthy environment for premature infants, paving the way for other advances in patient care throughout the 20th century. During this same time, dehumidifying systems designed by Carrier were first installed in luxury hotels in New York City and Kansas City, Missouri, paving the way for later widespread conditioning of air purely for comfort.
Dr. Carrier’s work with the washing and conditioning of air changed not only our standards of personal comfort in hot weather conditions, but also many processes of manufacturing and advances in health care. The company that bears his name still produces some of the finest AC systems available.

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