Most of us use our refrigerators every day to keep our food cold and to keep our beverages icy chilled. While the refrigerator has become a staple in everyday life, not many know about its historical origins. So, exactly who invented the refrigerator? Take a look at the following timeline of who invented the fridge to get a good sense of the roots of this vital appliance.
A Timeline of Cooling
The concept of cooling food to keep it fresher longer has been around since the days of the ancient Egyptians, a culture which froze water at night to keep perishable foods cold during the day. But landmarks leading to the modern refrigerator happened in more modern times. From the discovery of the temperature lowering properties of cooling gases to revolutions in beer production, take a look at these founding fathers of cold.
- 1720: Dr. William Cullen studies the cooling effects of liquids evaporating in a vacuum, the process by which we cool foods today.
- 1834: Jacob Perkins produces his own ice making machine, using an ether vapor compression cycle.
- 1856: James Harrison hires a brewery to make an experimental machine to cool beer.
- 1859: Ferdinand Carre (France) invents the first refrigeration machine using water and ammonia.
- 1873: The first portable refrigeration machine produced by Carl von Linde in Munich.
- 1894: Linde AG (a refrigeration company started in 1878) installs a cooler at the Guinness Brewery in Ireland, revolutionizing how beer is manufactured.
- 1911: General Electric unveils their refrigeration model, invented by a French monk.
- 1918: The popular brand Kelvinator becomes a new brand, named after the famous scientist Lord Kelvin, who invented a temperature scale used commonly in science.
- 1920: More than 150 different models of domestic refrigeration units available on the market, although domestic uses of fridges didnt become popular until after World War II.
- 1923: Kelvinator the most popular brand of fridge, dominating 80% of the market.
- 1925: Electrolux introduced the D-Fridge into the market, one of their most popular models.
- 1936: The common coolant R-134a is produced by Albert Henne, revolutionizing cooling efficiency in the home.
- 1937: Refrigeration becomes commonplace in America, with more than two million households containing the appliance.
- 1939: General Electric introduces a fridge with both freezing and cooling sections.
- 1955: More than 80% of Americans have a refrigerator in their home.
- 2005: 99% of Americans own and operate a fridge at home.
Invention of the Fridge
As you can see, the answer to who invented the refrigerator is a little more complex than a simple name. In reality, when we examine the invention of the refrigerator, the cooling units we know and love today are in fact a long compounding of countless scientific discoveries and engineering feats. From Lord Kelvin to the Kelvinator refrigerator, the road to the Common Cool has been a long and interesting one.