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Air Conditioning History Timeline

air conditioning history timeline

It’s hard to imagine a hot Texas summer with sweltering temperatures in the 100’s without air conditioning. As citizens of a modern world, perhaps we’ve become spoiled in our expectations of daily amenities, and this got us thinking — who was the genius that invented the modern air conditioning system?

That question turned out to be a little more difficult to answer than we thought. The “invention” of air conditioning was not so much one single “Aha!” moment, but rather several ideas over a few hundred years that got us to the modern HVAC system that we all know and love. Below is a brief history:

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptians are vaguely credited as being the first to use evaporative cooling by hanging wet cloth or reeds in windows and doorways. As wind blew across the wet materials, the air in the home would be cooled.

Ancient Rome

Wealthy citizens learn to route aqueducts through the walls of their homes. The circulating water has evaporative qualities that cools air.


Benjamin Franklin and John Hadley discover that the evaporation of volatile liquids like alcohol can cool an object to the point of freezing water.


Dr. John Gorrie patents his invention that uses air blown over ice to cool hospital rooms. His idea was based on the theory that hot air in hospitals contained sickness, so cooling the air would create a healthier environment.


Willis Carrier, working for Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Co, invents a machine that blows air over cold coils to control air temperature and humidity. The goal is to de-humidify the air so that paper doesn’t wrinkle and ink stays fresh. The idea catches on with other factories and Carrier founds the Carrier Air Conditioning Company of America.


The first in-home air conditioning unit is installed in a Minneapolis mansion. The machine is seven feet tall and twenty feet long.


H.H Schultz and J.Q Sherman invent the first window unit air conditioner. The cost of a unit (in today’s money) would be up to $600,000 dollars.

The 1950s

Residential air conditioners catch on in suburban homes.

The 1970s

Central air conditioning systems are popularized.

Air Conditioning Has Come A Long Way

With technology improving each day, there is a great chance that air conditioners from the future will be much more energy efficient and provide homeowners with the cooling they need without harming the environment. Solar air conditioners, for example, are a great sign that homeowners are in for a multitude of innovation in the coming years.

Meanwhile, are you looking for air conditioning repair or maintenance to ensure that your current unit works through the warm San Antonio temperatures? Contact ABC Home & Commercial Services today to ensure that your home is comfortable year round.

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