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A Short History of Air Conditioning

As the warmer months fade into the past, our air conditioners start to become less relevant as we open our windows wide and let the cool air of autumn breathe into our homes. But, our A/C got us through those dog days of summer, lest we forget! We often take our air conditioners for granted, and only when they go out do we realize how much we rely on them for our comfort.

Long before the advent of modern cooling technologies, people would go to great lengths to stay cool during the hottest days of summer. In ancient Rome, wealthy citizens tried to control the temperature inside their homes by using the city’s elaborate aqueduct system to circulate cool water through the walls of their homes. Other early cooling techniques were found in ancient China, where many people used hand fans, including the first room-sized manually powered rotary fan. Architects also realized very early that room design and construction played a major role in keeping rooms cool – windows faced away from the sun and were designed to catch and circulate breezes.

For hundreds of years, people were left on their own to keep cool. It wasn’t until 1902 that the first modern air conditioner was invented by Willis Carrier, a young engineer who worked at a printing company in New York. Carrier noticed that the hot temperatures caused problems during the printing process and wanted to invent a way to keep humidity out of the room while cooling the air. He used the already-discovered process of mechanical refrigeration to send air through coils filled with cold water, and after twenty years of improving his invention, the air conditioner was debuted to the public in 1925 at the Rivoli Theater in Times Square.

By the 1930s, air conditioning had spread to department stores and offices, but air conditioning inside homes took longer to catch on. By 1965, only 10% of homes had it, but by 2007 that number had risen to 86%.

Today’s air conditioners are much more energy-efficient than their early counterparts, and manufacturers are looking for new and easy ways to cool homes. "Smart thermostats" and touch screens allow homeowners to remotely control the temperature in their home, and thermostats can now be programmed to change with weather fluctuations.

Since its advent barely over 100 years ago, air conditioning has gone from being a luxury item to being a necessity and has changed the quality of life in America and all over the world. Kennedy Air Conditioning of Greater Little Rock, AR serves to ensure your comfort and well-being remain a priority in your home. For all of your heating and air needs, contact Kennedy AC today!


Oremus, Will. "A History of Air Conditioning." Slate Magazine. N.p., 15 July 2013. Web. 10 Oct. 2016. <>.

Varrasi, John. "Global Cooling: The History of Air Conditioning." Global Cooling The History of Air Conditioning. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Oct. 2016. <

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