Willis Haviland Carrier Biography

Willis Haviland Carrier

air conditioning pioneer
Born: 11/26/1876
Birthplace: Angola, N.Y.

Carrier grew up on his father's farm on the New York shore of Lake Erie. In 1895 he received a scholarship to Cornell University, but nonetheless he was forced to work at odd jobs to meet his expenses. Carrier earned a master's degree in electrical engineering in 1901. He accepted a job as an engineer at the Buffalo Forge Company, designing heating systems to dry lumber and coffee.

Carrier soon developed a better way to measure the capacity of heating systems and was named director of the company's experimental engineering department. Improving on existing air conditioning technology, in 1902 Carrier devised a system to control heat and humidity for the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company in Brooklyn. The firm had been unable to print reliable colors at times because of the effects of heat and humidity on paper and ink. In 1906 Carrier received a patent for his method.

In 1915 Carrier and six friends formed the Carrier Engineering Company with an investment of $32,600. The company pioneered the design and manufacture of refrigeration machines to cool large spaces. By increasing industrial production in the summer months, air conditioning revolutionized American life. The introduction of residential air conditioning in the 1920s helped start the great migration to the Sunbelt. In 2000 the Carrier Corporation had sales of more than $8 billion and employed some 45,000 people.

Died: 10/9/1950