We Celebrate the 121st Anniversary of Modern Air Conditioning!

In 1902, Willis Carrier submitted his design for the first modern air-conditioning system, accomplishing a feat that was once thought to be impossible – control of the indoor environment. His invention would give rise to a world-leading heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration company and create an entire industry essential to global productivity and personal comfort. Willis Carrier’s invention of modern air conditioning has been changing the way people live since 1902. We’ve included more information below on how his innovation helped launch entire industries, enabled new possibilities and continues to impact your life in ways far beyond keeping you cool and comfortable.

Inventing the Suburbs

Beginning with Levittown, Pennsylvania, in the late 1950s, Carrier residential air-conditioning installations fueled the growth of the American suburbs – including the spread throughout the Southwest, where life without air conditioning seems unimaginable today.

Manufacturing the Future

In the early 1900s, installations of Carrier air-conditioning equipment spread throughout textile mills and pharmaceutical plants, helping enable rapid industry expansion and forever improving manufacturing conditions.

Deep Expertise

Through groundbreaking installations of air-conditioning systems in underground gold and copper mines, Carrier helped increase productivity, grow global reserves of precious metals and improve working conditions.

Making Printing Possible

The first modern air-conditioning system wasn’t actually created to keep people cool. It was installed at Sackett & Wilhelms printing plant in Brooklyn to address summer humidity issues affecting the printing press. Installed in 1902, Carrier’s invention kept consistent temperature and humidity in the plant, enabling the printing press to operate year-round without issues.

The Rise of Retail

In the 1920s, a series of iconic air-conditioning installations in department stores helped keep customers cool and comfortable even on the hottest days, contributing to rapid growth in the retail industry. First was the J.L. Hudson Company, Detroit’s largest department store, which installed three, 195-ton centrifugal chillers.

Other sophisticated retailers in Seattle, Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas and New York City soon followed.

J.L. Hudson Company

In 1924, Detroit’s largest department store, installed three, 195-ton centrifugal chillers. Officially classified as comfort air conditioning, Willis Carrier noted, the installation was also designed “to meet an emergency as temperatures soared on basement bargain days—people fainted.”

Protecting the Global Food Supply

For more than half a century, Carrier has led the way in the safe, efficient transport of foods and other perishables.

Keeping Ice Cream Refrigerated

Carrier® Transicold® transport refrigeration units keep temperatures during transport at a consistent -20°F (-29°C) – the right temperature to prevent melting while avoiding freezer burn. This ensures the ice cream is protected for safe delivery to distribution centers, grocery stores and restaurants all over the world.

Keeping Bananas Refrigerated

During ocean transport Carrier’s industry-leading PrimeLINE® container refrigeration units protect delicate bananas by maintaining precise temperature, humidity and air circulation. PrimeLINE units also provide greater energy efficiency, making them the preferred technology of many of the world’s largest banana growers and shippers. And now, Carrier’s breakthrough NaturaLINE® unit can do the job with a 24 percent carbon reduction over entry tier units.

Shaping Skylines

Beginning with the first installation of a multi-story building in 1926 (the T.W. Patterson Building in Fresno, California) Carrier has helped efficiently cool ever-taller buildings – and the people inside – for nearly a century. This installation was followed by the 21-story Milam Building in San Antonio, Texas, and in 1928, the Frost National Bank in San Antonio, which was the first bank to be cooled by Carrier centrifugal refrigeration. Today, as urbanization continues at an unprecedented rate, Carrier’s role is more critical than ever before.

T.W. Patterson Building in Fresno, California

Skyscrapers were next to benefit from centrifugal refrigeration. In 1926, the T.W. Patterson Building in Fresno, California, became the first multi-story building to be air conditioned by Carrier.

Milam Building in San Antonio, Texas

The 21-story Milam Building in San Antonio, Texas, ‘the first skyscraper air conditioned from basement to roof during its construction,’ engineer Logan Lewis wrote.

Keeping Hospitality Cool

From lobbies and ballrooms to guest rooms and conference centers, hotel guests around the world require consistent comfort in every part of the building, every day of the year. More than a mint on the pillow, soft sheets or fluffy towels, comfort is also a product of ideal temperature and humidity. To efficiently meet these demands and ensure guests enjoy their stay, hotels around the world turn to the experts at Carrier – where innovation never rests.

Enabling the Digital World

The invention of computers and the internet has created new industries and redefined our world. At every step, Carrier has helped make it possible with solutions that efficiently cool the data centers that power the internet and drive our modern global economy, and provide the precise environments needed for manufacturing increasingly sophisticated electronics.

Revolutionizing Healthcare

In 1914, the Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania used a Carrier air conditioning system to establish the first incubator room, providing a comfortable environment for infants. Throughout the 20th century, Carrier would expand their reach in this market by air conditioning hospitals in Mexico City and Cairo, Egypt, and later in New York City, helping the Lenox Hill Hospital use a cold diffuser in its cryotherapy room. By 1940, the American Medical Association’s Council on Physical Therapy accepted Carrier room ventilators equipped with a pollen-type filter and authorized the use of the AMA seal.

Preserving History

In places ranging from the Sistine Chapel to Mount Vernon, Carrier helps protect historical sites and artifacts so that they can be enjoyed by visitors for generations to come.

In the fall of 2014, Carrier installed an innovative heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) solution at the Sistine Chapel, specially developed to help preserve Michelangelo’s masterpieces against deterioration caused by an increasing number of visitors.

The new system uses two Carrier® AquaForce® 30XWV water-cooled chillers with Greenspeed® intelligence, each with 580 kilowatts of capacity. It leverages specially designed software and components, as well as patented, energy-saving technologies to maintain optimal climate conditions for the protection of the paintings within the chapel. An intelligent system of controls, linked with an advanced video application, enables the HVAC system to anticipate visitor levels and adjust its performance intuitively. To ensure the smooth operation of the new system, the Vatican has chosen to enter into a five-year maintenance contract with Carrier Distribution Italy SpA.

“Our aim now is not restoration, but conservation. This is why we have chosen Carrier, because a masterpiece like the Sistine Chapel needs a comparable masterpiece of technology,” said Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums.

The Entertainment Industry

Innovation on Film

Have you ever noticed how early movies had white specks dotting the screen? That was the result of too much humidity during the celluloid filmmaking process. Through installations in places like the Celluloid Company in the early 1900s, Carrier helped improve film quality and supported the rise of the emerging American movie industry.

Summer Blockbusters

The Memorial Day 1925 installation of a Carrier air-conditioning system at the Rivoli Theatre in New York City would change the moviegoer experience forever, giving rise to the blockbuster as a means of enjoying entertainment while escaping the summer heat.

Moving Comfort Forward

From railroad cars to buses to cruise ships, Carrier pioneered the use of air conditioning to keep passengers comfortable on journeys across town and around the world.

Each year, more than 30 million passengers set sail aboard cruise ships around the world. As the industry continues to grow, the focus remains on providing the best possible passenger experience while reducing energy usage and emissions. At Carrier, we have decades of experience at sea, with a range of solutions on board vessels ranging from luxury cruise liners to cargo ships. We’re here to help owners and operators delight passengers while saving energy and improving sustainability.


In 1929, Carrier began working on a steam ejector refrigerating system that used water as the refrigerant. Then, at a Carrier Corporation open house in 1931, a number of railroad executives met with him in Newark, New Jersey, where they were shown an old, obsolete railroad car. Despite high temperatures outside, the temperature in the car was a pleasant 74 degrees. A new system had been devised for cooling railroad trains using steam.

Battleship North Carolina

The most decorated American battleship of World War II, the USS North Carolina now serves as a memorial at the seaport of Wilmington, North Carolina. To provide comfort for visitors while preserving the historical ambience of the ship, Carrier provided a specialized HVAC solution.

Combining two Toshiba Carrier VRF heat recovery outdoor units, 14 indoor units and customized piping, the solution delivers comfort across a variety of load requirements while blending unobtrusively into the background.

Harmony and Symphony of the Seas

Harmony and Symphony of the Seas are the world’s largest cruise ships, housing more than 8,000 people, passengers and crew combined. Like most of the Royal Caribbean fleet, Autronica provides the ships with fire detection, safety and emergency management systems.

The long-standing relationship between Autronica and Royal Caribbean is a result of Autronica’s ability to meet Royal Caribbean’s high standards for safety and security. The cruise line also turns to LenelS2 for closed-circuit TV systems, and Marioff for a HI-FOG water mist fire suppression system.



Contact Apex Heating and Air, and authorized Carrier Dealer and President’s Award Recipient, for all your HVAC, heating and air conditioning needs by calling 919-467-8823 or using the contact form on this site.