Genius can strike anywhere. For Willis Carrier, it was a foggy Pittsburgh train platform in 1902. Carrier stared through the mist and realized that he could dry air by passing it through water to create fog. Doing so would make it possible to manufacture air with specific amounts of moisture in it. Within a year, he completed his invention to control humidity – the fundamental building block for modern air conditioning.
- Born November 26, 1876, in Angola, New York
- Earned engineering degree from Cornell University in 1901
- Started working at Buffalo Forge Company in 1901
- Designed the world’s first modern air conditioning system in 1902
- Developed Rational Psychrometric Formulae in 1911
- Founded Carrier Engineering Corporation in 1915
- Awarded honorary doctorates from Lehigh University (1935) and Alfred University (1942)
- Died October 7, 1950, in New York City
- Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1985
- Named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century” in 1998
Willis Carrier would grow up to solve one of mankind’s most elusive challenges – controlling the indoor environment. As a child, though, he had difficulty grasping the concept of fractions. Realizing his struggles, his mother taught him by cutting whole apples into various-sized fractional pieces. He later said this lesson was the most important one that he ever learned because it taught him the value of intelligent problem-solving.
The “Father of Air Conditioning,” Willis Carrier’s invention gave rise to numerous industries that power our economy today. Manufacturing of everything from baked goods to wartime supplies was made possible by air conditioning. Air conditioning led directly to summer movie blockbusters as people came to cooled theaters to escape the heat. The precise control of temperature and humidity made possible by his invention even enabled shopping malls, transatlantic flight, and the computers and servers that power the Internet.
Willis Carrier recognized early on that climate, comfort and production requirements would determine the value of air conditioning. From the beginning, he began to develop a network of international dealers, distributors and customers. Success with early installations in Europe and Asia were indicators of air conditioning’s universal application across international borders.
Willis Carrier’s legacy lives on today as the company he founded continues to reinvent the industry and shape the world we live in. Carrier leads the industry with energy-efficient products and manufacturing practices. Every day, Carrier brings productivity and comfort to the world through new innovations – all built on energy efficiency and sustainability.