Air Conditioning: Development Through The Ages


We don’t often think about the history of air conditioning, in fact we probably don’t think much about air conditioning at all. That is, unless it isn’t working and the temperatures outside are reaching near the hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit. Our modern world is full of wonders. Not only can we cool our houses, we can use the air conditioning in our cars to keep us comfortable while traveling.


The thing is, temperatures were as high as they are now, or higher maybe, throughout history as well. What did people that lived back then do when they couldn’t plug in their AC unit and be greeted with a flow of cool air? Well here is a brief look at what air conditioning looked like throughout history.


As far back as ancient Egypt and Rome, there is evidence of attempts at some type of air conditioning. These ancient people attempted to cool the air in their homes and houses by running aqueducts through their walls and circulating water through them. Mechanical systems for air conditioning were developed in China later during the 3rd century. These would be considered crude and inefficient machines today, but at the time they were impressive scientific breakthroughs. They also created jobs as most of these machines were hand operated! Wouldn’t that be a tiring day at work?


Modern air conditioning science started to come together around the beginning of the 1900’s when the first electrical air conditioner was developed by a Cornell graduate. In-home air conditioning came about about fifteen years after this breakthrough, but these air conditioners used toxic components. This posed a threat to anyone that had one in case of a leak. To cure this danger, freon was invented in 1928 but it wasn’t until 1994 that most of the air conditioning units that were made adopted this safer component for cooling houses and refrigerators.


It is interesting to think how much we take for granted every time we come home to a cool house that has air conditioning. All the history, research, and sacrifice that went into the science to create these impressive and useful machines is often forgotten. We have come a long way from putting aqueducts in our walls and doing our best to circulate water through them. Today we have much more successful, efficient options for cooling us off during the hot summer months. Next time you use your air conditioning, take a moment to think about what life would be like back in ancient times. 

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