Willis Carrier

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Willis Carrier
Willis Carrier 1915.jpg
Carrier in 1915
Born Willis Haviland Carrier
(1876-11-26)November 26, 1876
Angola, New York, USA
Died October 7, 1950(1950-10-07) (aged 73)[1]
New York City,NY,USA
Nationality American
Alma mater Cornell University (BSE)
Occupation Engineer,Inventor
Known for Air Conditioning
Awards ASME Medal (1934)
Frank P. Brown Medal (1941)

Willis Haviland Carrier (November 26, 1876 –October 7, 1950) was an American Engineer,best known for inventing A/C(Air Conditioning). Carrier invented first Electrical A/C unit in 1902,and in 1915;he founded Carrier Corporation,a Company of manufacturing and distribution of HVAC (Heating,Ventilating,and A/C)(HVAC)systems.

Early life and education

Er.Willis Carrier was born on November 26, 1876, in Angola, New York, the son of Duane Williams Carrier (1836–1908) and Elizabeth R. Haviland (1845–1888).

He studied at Cornell University, graduating in 1901 with a BS in Engineering.


Engineers Hand-book, edited by Carrier while at the Buffalo Forge Co. in 1914

In Buffalo, New York, on July 17, 1902, in response to a quality problem experienced at the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company of Brooklyn, Willis Carrier submitted drawings for what became recognized as world's first modern A/C (Air Conditioning) system. The 1902 installation marked the birth of A/C because of addition of humidity control, which led to the recognition by authorities in the field that A/C must perform four basic functions:-

  1. control temperature
  2. control humidity
  3. control air circulation and ventilation
  4. cleanse air

After several more years of refinement and field testing, on January 2, 1906. Carrier was granted U.S. Patent 808,897 for an Apparatus for Treating Air, the world's first spray-type A/C. It was designed to humidify or dehumidify air, heating water for the first function and cooling it for the second.

In 1906, Carrier discovered that "constant dew-point depression provided practically constant relative humidity," which later became known among air conditioning engineers as the "law of constant dew-point depression." On this discovery he based the design of an automatic control system, for which he filed a patent claim on May 17, 1907. U.S. Patent 1,085,971 was issued on February 3, 1914.

On December 3, 1911, Carrier presented what is perhaps the most significant document ever prepared on A/C– Rational Psychrometric Formulae –at annual meeting of ASMEAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers.It became known as "Magna Carta of Psychrometrics."This document tied together concepts of relative humidity,absolute humidity,and dew-point temperature,thus making it possible to design A/C systems to precisely fit requirements at hand.

With onset of World War I in late 1914,Buffalo Forge Company,where Carrier had been employed for 12 years,decided to confine it's activities entirely to manufacturing.The result was that 7 young Engineers pooled together their life savings of $32,600 to establish Carrier Engineering Corporation in New Yorkon June 26, 1915.The 7 were: Carrier; J.Irvine Lyle,Edward T.Murphy,L.Logan Lewis,Ernest T.Lyle,Frank Sanna,Alfred E Stacey,Jr.,and Edmund P.Heckel.The Co.eventually settled on Frelinghuysen Avenue in Newark, New Jersey.

Great Depression and after

Despite the development of the centrifugal refrigeration machine and the commercial growth of A/C to cool buildings in the 1920s,the Co. ran into financial difficulties,as did many others, as a result of the Wall Street Crashin October 1929.In 1930,it merged with Brunswick-Kroeschell Co.and York Heating&Ventilating Corporation to form Carrier Corporation, with Carrier named Chairman of Board.

The Great Depression slowed residential and commercial use of A/C.The Co.spread out over 4 cities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania until. Carrier consolidated and moved his Co. to Syracuse, New York,in 1937.The Co. became one of the largest employers in central New York.

Carrier's igloo in 1939 New York World's Fair gave visitors a glimpse into future of A/C,but before it became popular,World War IIbegan.During post-war economic boom of the 1950s,A/C began it's tremendous growth in popularity.Today,A/C and HVAC is staple in many homes.Ceiling fans and A/C are often used in conjunction;in summer,a ceiling fan allows the thermostat to be set several degrees higher; in winter,a fan can be set to a low speed on reverse direction to bring down stratified heat from the heating system.


In 1930, Carrier started Toyo Carrier and Samsung Applications in Japan and Korea.[citation needed] South Korea is now largest producer of A/C in world. Carrier Corporation pioneered design and manufacture of refrigeration machines to cool large spaces.By increasing industrial production in summer months,A/C revolutionized life. The introduction of residential A/C in 1920s helped start great migration to the Sunbelt. Carrier Corporation became a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation in 1980. Carrier Corporation remains a world leader in commercial and residential HVAC and refrigeration. In 2007, Carrier Corporation had sales of more than $15 Billion and employed some 45,000 engineers, technicians and other non-engineering personnel.

Personal life

Carrier and all three of his wives (Claire Seymour, d. 1912; Jennie Martin, d. 1939; Elizabeth Marsh Wise, d. 1964) are buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.[2] Despite being married three times,he had only one child, Howard Carter Willis.

Carrier was a Presbyterian.[3][4]

Awards and recognition

For his contributions to science and industry, Willis Carrier was awarded an Engineering Degree by Lehigh University in 1935[5] and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Alfred (NY) University in 1942. Carrier was awarded the Frank P. Brown Medal in 1942, and was inducted posthumously in the National Inventors Hall of Fame (1985) and the Buffalo Science Museum Hall of Fame (2008).


  1. ^ Margaret Ingels, Willis Haviland Carrier: father of air conditioning, Country Life Press, 1952, p. 101: "Willis Haviland Carrier died in New York on October 7, 1950, shortly before his seventy-fourth birthday."
  2. ^ Ingels, Margaret (1952), Willis Haviland Carrier: Father of Air Conditioning, Garden City: Country Life Press .
  3. ^ Willis Carrier
  4. ^ People of the Century, Willis Carrier p.64:"Willis Carrier, who read and sought out knowledge until his death at 73, married 3 times(twice a widower)and adopted two children,neither of whom survive.In classic American-businessman fashion,he was a Presbyterian,a Republican and a Golfer."
  5. ^ Cornelius, Billy (1946), The Lehigh Story (PDF), Bethlehem: Self Published, p. 95 .

External links

  • Rational Psychrometric Formulae, by Willis H. Carrier (1911)
  • Carrier's Role in Automotive Air Conditioning
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