Many people consider air conditioning to be an essential convenience. Did you know that the AC is the silent hero behind many changes in how we work, live, and play today? This includes facilitating advancements in modern medicine and altering how houses are constructed. It’s even why we can see the latest big summer movie. Even if you don’t believe it, the history of air conditioning can be quite interesting. Here are nine interesting facts about the history of ACs that will change how you think about them.
1. First-Century BC Inventors Invented AC
Our timeline of the history of AC began in 180 AD when a Chinese engineer named Ding Huan in Han Dynasty China made the prototype of an AC. The Xi Jing Za Ji (Miscellaneous Records of the Western Capital) says that this man made a huge air-conditioning fan with seven 3-meter-wide fans connected so they could move together when a wheel was turned. This fan could cool a room full of Chinese courtiers so well that “people would even start to shiver,” the book says.
2. ACs Were First Made to Dry Out Ink
Did you know that Willis Carrier made the first modern AC to help a New York publishing house deal with a wave of humidity? Imagine the chaos at the Sackett-Williams Lithographing & Publishing Company in 1902. The heat and humidity are messing up the printing process. The paper is smudged because the ink is running. In the humid air, the paper swells and also shrinks.
Carrier’s huge machine, which he cutely called an “Apparatus for Treating Air,” solved these issues by using chilled coils to keep the humidity level in a room consistent. Large buildings like hotels, textile mills, and hospitals quickly put these big air conditioners in place because they had room for them.
Even though Carrier’s big invention was not safe (it used the dangerous chemical ammonia as a coolant), it paved the way for the much safer, smaller, and more effective ACs we use today.
3. The First ACs for Homes Were Huge
The first AC made for homes was over 2 meters tall, almost 2 meters wide, and, wait for it, 6 meters long.
Early ACs cost between $10,000 and $ 50,000, which was not a small amount. In today’s money, that’s about the same as 120–600,000 USD.
4. ACs Have Significantly Increased Human Life Expectancy
The development of AC has greatly affected how long people live. How? Said many of the medicines we use today would not have been developed without the availability of a controlled temperature laboratory environment.
With AC, physicians have created ground-breaking advancements in surgery, cancer therapies, common cold remedies, and medications to suppress germs, reduce infant mortality, and also beat malaria. It’s crazy to think that some diseases could never have been cured without AC.
5. Air Conditioners Have Changed How We Build Buildings
What did people do before everyone had air conditioning? So, architects would make buildings to let in as much air as possible. Think of high ceilings, verandas, and shade-giving plants. The ability to control the temperature and humidity inside with an AC has changed how we design and build buildings. For example, we can now build glass skyscrapers and houses with low walls.
6. The Summer Blockbuster Was Made Possible by ACs
Do you love getting away from the summer heat to see a big-screen summer hit? In the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, movie theatres realized that AC was the best way to get people to go on the hottest, stickiest days of the year. Most people didn’t have AC at home. So, they went to the movies for free air conditioning coils, popcorn, and a good movie.
To take advantage of this, movie studios started putting out their biggest movies in the summer, which gave rise to the term “summer blockbuster.” This trend of putting out big movies in the summer continues today.
7. Summer Vacations Are a Relic of The Era Before AC
Before there was AC, summer was unbearably hot. Many countries decided that it was way too hot to expect kids to learn in school and also workers to work in factory buildings. Industries, schools, and the government took a month off during the summer so workers and people wouldn’t be stuck in buildings too hot to stand. The kids are lucky that the tradition has stayed. Now, kids can spend their summer vacations in heaven thanks to the AC.
8. They Reduce Allergy and Asthma Symptoms
By taking pollen, dust mites, and other small particles out of the air, AC can help people with spring allergies. People with allergies or asthma can breathe clean air from an AC because it has a built-in filter. If your allergies worsen when it gets warmer, an AC will help keep you from sneezing.