Willis Carrier enabled Arizona to grow, expand and prosper
In 1902, Willis H. Carrier, a recent graduate of Cornell University, began working in a New York printing office for the princely salary of $10.00 per week. Smart, eager, ambitious and curious, Mr. Carrier immersed himself fully in all aspects of America’s booming printing industry. His interest in printing and solving problems endemic to the industry inadvertently led to population booms in states like Florida and Arizona.
Mr. Carrier’s boss, the owner of the print shop, constantly complained about the difficulty he had in stabilizing the ink, formatting the paper, and applying type to the paper based on changes in temperature and humidity. The printing factory at that time was an innately warm, stuffy environment, as the machines were large, dirty and generated enormous amounts of heat. Humid summer days further extrapolate the difficulties of the printing process. The result was inconsistent print quality and many jobs had to be reworked at a loss of profit.
Mr. Carrier was exasperated by these problems and began to consider potential solutions. One evening, while waiting in the fog for the train home, he had what he described as a “mental vision” of how to solve the problem of the heavy, damp, humid air that was hampering the printing process and making life miserable for people during wet seasons. summer days.
Mr. Carrier’s solution was based on a simple realization and study of weather patterns: cold, wind, water, fog and seasonal adjustments that Mother Nature seemed to make on cue. His theorem, which was submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1906 in his patent, narrative and art, contained the first description of a working prototype for space air conditioning.
The original “centrifugal cooler” was not called an air conditioner for several years. Mr. Carrier worked for several more years to commercialize his invention, and in 1915, with several investors who contributed $35,000, he founded the Carrier Corporation. Sales in 2007 exceeded $5 billion.
Willis H. Carrier created the air conditioning system with intended applications for a wide range of industrial placement and use. Medical products, food preparation, cosmetics, transport of perishables and finely calibrated machinery were some of the markets and industries Carrier initially targeted. The idea of using the new air conditioning system for personal comfort did not take hold until 1924. That year, the original JL Hudson Department Store in Detroit installed the system and shoppers flocked to the store.
In the early 20th century, Henry Flagler built the first railroad through Florida. At the time, Florida was relatively backwater, sparsely populated, remote, with little industry other than citrus groves. The heat and humidity across most of the state has been oppressive for most of each year. The mosquitoes and insects were oppressive. Windows had to be kept open to circulate the dry, humid air.
Mr. Flager dreamed that Florida, Palm Beach, the Keys and Naples would one day become world-class resort destinations. He just had to be able to safely; and comfortably transported visitors to the resorts he was building and had them enjoy the wonders of the Florida sun while the rest of the country suffered from the winter blues. What to do about bugs and damp?
Arizona, much of Texas, New Mexico and Nevada faced climate challenges in different ways than Florida. Oppressive heat, no or low humidity, and vast arid plains and deserts made these states very difficult places for all but the heartiest few to live comfortably. Industry, technology, population growth and tourism were unlikely to emerge in such an unattractive environment.
Henry Flager saw his opportunity to be a pioneer in the rapid development of Florida, greatly enhanced by the invention of the “centrifugal cooler.”
At last his vacationers could spend their days in his tourist palaces in splendor and complete comfort. Air conditioning allowed people to visit and enjoy Florida, and upon returning home to spread the word about the beaches and the possibilities of living in such a place. The rush to move to such a suddenly attractive place would have been unthinkable without the invention, commercialization and mass availability of air conditioning.
Arizona and much of the Southwest would still be Indian reservations, cactus farms, and scrubland without Mr. Carrier’s invention. Mass migration of population to these countries in the second half of the 20th century would never have been possible. Can you imagine Las Vegas without air conditioning.
Willis H. Carrier invented his air conditioning system to allow industry and manufacturers to function more efficiently. As is often the case, however, the device was adapted in ways that benefited the population in many alternative uses. Cars, planes and trains were air conditioned and the result was that long distance travel could be enjoyed in comfort for the first time in history. Arid and tropical environments around the world have become hospitable.
The industries we take for granted today would never have developed without the ability to control excessive heat and climate. A silicon computer chip manufacturing facility creates a tremendous amount of heat that must be controlled. There could be no modern computer industry without air conditioners. The biotech, nanotech, pharmaceutical and laser industries would not have existed with Willis Carrier’s invention.
My marketing consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, reviews hundreds of new product and invention proposals each year. Of course, don’t own the wonderful utility of a product like an air conditioner. However, there are wonderful lessons that product developers can learn from stories like Willis Carrier’s. The first path we take is usually not the route we take to success. Many products are on their way to successful mass market commercialization.
The next time you step inside on a hot summer day, remember that the comforting cool air you feel was originally designed to allow printers to put ink to paper more productively. Keep your mind open and eyes focused for alternative, hidden opportunities to commercialize and maximize your ideas, concepts and inventions. They are all around you.
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