By: Patricia Cermignano

As we celebrated the 115th anniversary of modern-day air conditioning last week, we wanted to take time to provide a brief history of the "Father of Air Conditioning"- Willis Carrier.


Willis Carrier-

Early Years-

Willis Carrier was born on November 26, 1876 in Angola, New York to Duane Williams Carrier and Elizabeth R. Haviland. In 1901, Willis Carrier graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Engineering.

Lifetime Milestones-

  • 1901- Willis Carrier began working at Buffalo Forge Company- a supplier of forges, fans and hot blast heaters.
  • July 17, 1902- Willis Carrier submitted his design for the first modern air conditioning system to help resolve a production and quality issue at Sackett & Wilhelms Lithography and Printing Company in Brooklyn, New York.
  • September 6, 1904- Willis Carrier applied for a patent for his Apparatus of Treating Air invention. The patent (Patent No. 808897) was finally issued on January 2, 1906. The patent was for the invention of the world's first spray-type air conditioning equipment, which became the foundation for modern-day air conditioning.
  • 1911- Willis Carrier developed the Rationale Psychrometric Formulae, which was the science behind designing the air conditioning system. This also helped make Carrier a world-renowned name.
  • 1915- Willis Carrier founded Carrier Engineering Corporation. The first offices were located in Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.
  • May 13, 1926- Carrier introduced the first home air conditioning system.
  • 1935- Willis Carrier received a honorary doctorate from Lehigh University.
  • 1942- Willis Carrier received a honorary doctorate from Alfred University.
  • October 7, 1950- Willis Carrier died in New York City.

Posthumous Awards-

  • 1985- Willis Carrier was inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame.
  • 1998- TIME magazine named Willis Carrier as one of their "100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century".

Carrier Corporation Milestones-

  • 1979- Carrier Corporation was acquired by United Technologies, which helped the company reform the global HVAC market.
  • July 7, 1993- To help preserve the original colors of Michelangelo's work in the Sistine Chapel, Carrier Corporation designed and installed highly accurate humidity-measuring units nearly 30 feet above the ground. 
  • July 8, 1993- Carrier Corporation stopped manufacturing Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-based chillers in the United States. This was nearly two years before any deadlines were established and mandated by the U.S. Clean Air Act.
  • 2008- Carrier Corporation secured nearly 70% of the HVAC contracts used in the venues at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.


Willis Carrier's contributions to air conditioning have helped countless industries grow and power the economy. For instance, air conditioning made the manufacturing of baked goods possible, led to summer blockbuster hits as movie theaters became a popular way to escape the heat, and enabled transatlantic flights and computers to exist. As summers continue to grow hotter and last longer each year, air conditioning has almost become an essential component of life in many parts of the world.

Life as we know it would be very different had air conditioning not been invented in 1902, and we have Willis Carrier to thank for that.