The King James Version of Ecclesiasticus 44:1 starts with this: “Let us now praise famous men…” Indeed. One of the greatest men who ever lived, however, isn’t actually all that famous — but he should be.
On November 26, 1876, Willis Haviland Carrier was born in Angola, New York.
Is the name not familiar? Is it at least vaguely familiar?
For many years I’ve thought that his birthday should be a national holiday. Why? Willis Carrier invented modern air conditioning.
Those who know me well have heard me praise Carrier on many a hot, muggy, summer day.
Many people complain about the weather in the Chicago area where I’ve lived most of my life. Frankly, I like it. I love the seasonal changes — the crisp fall days, the snow, and the gradual warm-up that comes in the spring. I have no idea how people live in the American south, let alone in other warmer climates around the world. And as much as people boast about living in America’s sunbelt, would they do so without air conditioning? I seriously doubt it.
No one appreciates a 75 degree/sunny/low humidity summer day more than me. But ratchet up the humidity and you can count me out, or rather, you can count me in — inside that is — enjoying the climate control chill of a heavenly air conditioned building.
Anyone who likewise appreciates the ability to escape from the oppressive, sweat inducing heat, should take some time to read about Willis Carrier’s life. It’s one of those great American stories. And in my mind, it’s one of the greatest.
Here are bullet points from the website celebrating the life of Willis Carrier, www.williscarrier.com:
- Born November 26, 1876, in Angola, N.Y.
- Received engineering degree from Cornell University 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
- Died October 7, 1950, in New York, N.Y.
- 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
This page starts with these words:
On July 17, 1902,
Willis Haviland Carrier
designed the first modern air-conditioning system, launching an industry that would fundamentally improve the way we live, work and play.
In fact I’d be hard-pressed to name many more important men outside of the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, and a handful of others, whose lives have contributed more to the pursuit of happiness in modern American than Willis Carrier.
Since the air conditioning in both my house and my car has been is use a lot lately, I didn’t want to wait five months to do a post celebrating Carrier on his birthday. Then I saw that the Carrier Engineering Corporation was formed on June 26, 1915. What a great day in American history!
Image credit: www.carrier.com.