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He's one of America’s greatest inventors. But unlike Edison, Ford, Bell or the Wright Brothers, his remarkable accomplishment has never been fully recognized. He made indoor sports and summer blockbuster movies possible. His invention facilitated the growth of the microchip and pharmaceutical industries. Some even credit him for the rise of the New South and the Sun Belt. He's Dr. Willis H. Carrier, and 100 years ago (1902), he invented modern air conditioning, making the world a much cooler place in which to live.

We may have grown accustomed to cool, comfortable air in our homes, cars, offices, shopping malls, public transportation and movie theaters, but the air conditioning industry continues to solve perplexing problems with comfort in much the same way Willis H. Carrier did when he introduced the first scientific air conditioning system in 1902.

There are few areas in life that have not felt the impact of air conditioning since Willis H. Carrier, a 25-year-old mechanical engineer employed by the Buffalo Forge Co., solved a quality problem for Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing Co., a Brooklyn, N.Y. printer on July 17, 1902.

Celebrating 100 years of innovation, Carrier Corporation, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX), is the world’s largest manufacturer of air conditioning, heating and refrigeration equipment for commercial, residential and transportation applications. Headquartered in Farmington, Connecticut USA, with over 45,000 employees in over 171 countries, Carrier combines its global HVAC and refrigeration expertise with the responsiveness of its local operations to lead nearly every geographic market.


Willis Haviland Carrier, Biography   from The Great Idea Finder

Willis Haviland Carrier Father of Air Conditioning
by Margaret Ingels / Hardcover: 170 pages / Ayer Co Pub; Reprint edition (December 1, 1972)


Carrier Corporation
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.
Carrier History
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 might think.
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.


  • Some of his installations include the Madison Square Garden, the U.S. House and Senate Chambers and the White House.
  • He would install the world's first residential air conditioning system in a home in Minneapolis, Minn. (I do not know why.)

Willis Carrier had a humble upbringing and possessed high hopes from the start. Interested in mechanics from the time he was a child, he once planned to create an entire estate of mechanical animals. At the age of nine, like most children that age, Carrier had trouble understanding fractions. In an effort to help him better understand, his mother sat him down in the kitchen and cut an apple into halves, quarters, and eighths. As a result of this exercise, Carrier would solve every complex problem he encountered by reducing it to its simplest form and solving its component problems one by one. His high school graduation essay stated that, "a man with the power of will could make himself anything he wished no matter what the circumstances." On July 17, 1902, Carrier proved this statement true when he completed drawings for what came to be recognized as the world's first scientific air conditioning system.

Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised July, 2004.
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