Early last weekend the parking lot at the gym was marked off by traffic cones and yellow caution tape. I stood at the front door waiting for the Y to open. I glanced at the door and noticed a sheet of paper taped to the glass. It was a notice that the entrance would be closed for a couple of hours and to please use the side entrance. A crane was to be parked in the lot to enable the installation of a new air conditioning unit onto the roof.
Ah, one of the greatest advancements of human history, electrical air conditioning. One of the inventions that has been a catalyst for many changes in the past 109 years. An invention that some of us take for granted until the power goes out or the unit breaks down. Air conditioning is fast becoming as ubiquitous as indoor plumbing, central indoor heating and electric lighting.
In July of 1902, the first generation of modern air conditioning began operating. Willis Carrier built on the experimentation and theories of earlier scientists to invent the machine. The first device was designed to improve conditions inside of a printing plant. The cooler air and lower humidity helped maintain consistent paper size and ink alignment. Soon, Mr. Carrier’s invention was adapted to other factories and offices to improve worker productivity. From then on, popularity of the electric cooler snowballed to enormous demand.
It’s inconceivable to think that advances in medical care could have happened in the absence of air conditioning. Critical surgeries can only be performed under strict temperature, humidity and filtration conditions. Open heart surgery is a prime example of the need for carefully controlled ambient air.
You probably wouldn’t be reading this blog and I wouldn’t be writing these posts if not for air conditioning. The clean-rooms necessary for the development and manufacture of miniaturized electronic circuitry would be impossible without the ability to carefully control the indoor environment. If Willis Carrier thought his invention would greatly improve the printing of lithographs, imagine how amazed he would be at the application of his machinery to the printing of micro-circuits in the semi-conductor industry.
Indeed, it’s come full circle. Air conditioning enabling computer circuits which now control air conditioning systems in industry and in homes. It’s amazing how such a basic desire to keep cool in summer has led to so many of life’s modern improvements.
The Blue Jay of Happiness hopes you have a cool day today.