Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Did You Know?

While it seems unlikely knowing Buffalo's reputation for cold weather most of the year, air conditioning as we know it was invented here. Better yet, it was invented to aid in the printing process.

A native of Angola, NY, Willis Haviland Carrier began working for the Buffalo Forge Company in June 1901. While at Buffalo Forge, Carrier began experimenting with air conditioning as a way to solve a problem faced by printers at the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company in Brooklyn, NY. At the time, printing press operators struggled with aligning the ink print onto the paper because of paper's hygroscopic properties - that is, the tendency of paper to expand and contract in conditions of heat and humidity.

He attempted to take the moisture out of the air by fanning it through pieces of brine-saturated burlap, but this technique caused salt and water residue to rust nearby machines and was therefore ineffective. Instead, Carrier developed a system to send air through cold coils to cool the air and control the amount of moisture the colder air could hold. This in turn allowed him to control the amount of humidity in the room.

On July 17, 1902, the first air conditioner began working at Sackett-Wilhelms, designed and build in Buffalo. His patent was called the 'Apparatus for Treating Air' and was awarded U.S. Pat # 808897 in 1906.

Photo: Willis Haviland Carrier with the first Apparatus for Treating Air, 1902.

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