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The Benefits of Air Conditioning

            America's quality of life drastically changed 111 years ago with the invention of air conditioning and refrigeration. One might often think of air conditioners as machines that conditions (cools) the air around us. The effects of the air conditioner go far beyond simple cooling from where one might live to recent advances in technology. Refrigeration allows food to be stored for long periods of time, and with the advent of the cooled box car, raw food could be transported from state to state. Air conditioning is typically taken for granted until a system breaks down causing people to suffer, and food to spoil.
             The term "air conditioning" did not exist prior to 1906; before that "beat the heat" was all people wanted to do, and methods such as snow/ice storage and fans date back to ancient times. Ironically, the invention of air conditioning was intended for the benefit of paper, not for the American people. The first machine resembling a modern air conditioner was built in 1902 by Willis Carrier (Scanlon 84). Designed to improve the manufacturing process control (paper and ink quality) in a printing plant, his invention controlled not only temperature but also humidity. Soon, industrial buildings and hospitals began adopting the technology. In the 1920s and 30s, the use of air conditioning in movie theaters became an attraction in itself, and people flocked to them. This just happened to be at the time of Hollywood's "Golden age". Before air conditioning, all sorts of strategies were used to beat the heat. Homes were designed with airflow in mind with cross ventilation, higher ceilings, and more windows. .
             Many homes had porches where families could spend a hot day, and also sleeping porches with beds where they could ride out a hot night. The invention of air conditioning signified the end of primitive cooling methods and unpleasantries; making life easier by essentially controlling the weather.

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