Buffalo, NY the Birthplace of Air-Conditioning
by Steve Powell
Buffalonian.com

July 18, 2002

Who would have thought that 100 years ago this week, air conditioning as it is known today was invented in Buffalo,NY. After graduating from Cornell University, Willis Haviland Carrier a native of Angola, NY found a job at the Buffalo Forge Company in Buffalo, NY.
Carrier was graduate of the old Hutchinson-Central High School in Buffalo and decided to look for work here after college.
While at Buffalo Forge Carrier began experimentation with air conditioning as a way to solve an application problem for the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company in Brooklyn, NY.
Printing press operators in those days had a rough time aligning the ink print onto the paper because paper is "hygroscopic" (it expands and contracts in the heat and humidity). This means the effective size of the paper kept changing due to poor humidity control and fouling the machines.
Carrier joined the Buffalo Forge Company in June, 1901 and began as a designer of steam heating systems to dry lumber and coffee.
Faced with the new challenge presented by the Sackett-Wilhelms application, he attempted to take the moisture "out" of the air by fanning it through pieces of brine-saturated burlap. This did not work and the salt residue blown off of the burlap caused nearby machinery to rust.

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Mr. Carrier used his knowledge of heating of objects with steam, and reversed his thinking process. Instead of sending air through hot coils, he sent it through cold coils (ones filled with cold water).
The air blowing over the cold coils cooled the air and he could thereby control the amount of moisture the colder air could hold, and in turn the humidity in the room could be controlled.
On July 17, 1902, the first "air conditioner" began working at Sackett-Wilhelms, designed and built in Buffalo. Although the old Buffalo Forge plant located at 490 Broadway st. is no longer in use the invention it produced effects millions of us around the world.
"From what I heard when I worked there, Carrier thought he could sell these units to smaller customers and thought it should be further developed. The management at Buffalo Forge saw differently, the rest is history." Said James Heisler of Buffalo a who worked at the plant until 1984.
Like Alexander Graham Bell, Carrier was first one to the patent office and because of that he is now known as the father of air-conditioning. By the way his patent was called the 'Apparatus for Treating Air' and was awarded U.S. Pat# 808897 in 1906.
Sources:
Carrier.com
http://www.global.carrier.com/details/0,,CLI1_DIV28_ETI26,00.html
Buffalo News 07.18.2002
By GENE WARNER and SANDRA TAN
News Staff Reporters
Mr. Cool's breeze -World can thank local inventor for air conditioning's century-long hum
http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20020718/1046207.asp
The Father of Cool
By Mary Bellis
http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa081797.htm

 

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