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Here is a timeline of historical facts about the development of the air-conditioning industry you may find interesting and help you appreciate the impact this important industry has on our lives:

1881 - When President James Garfield was dying, naval engineers constructed a box-like structure containing clothes saturated with melted ice water, where a fan blew outside air through this box and into his room. The contraption was able to lower the room temperature by 20 degrees Fahrenheit and consumed half a million pounds of ice in two months time.

1882 - Thanks to Thomas Edison the first electric power plant opens in New York making it possible for the first time to have an inexpensive source of energy for residential and commercial buildings.

1902 - Willis Carrier builds the first air conditioner to combat humidity inside a printing company.

1906 - Willis Carrier patents his invention calling it an "Apparatus for Treating Air."

1906 - Stuart W. Cramer coins the term "Air Conditioning."

1914 - Carrier installs air conditioning in the first home, a mansion in Minneapolis. Cost: $10,000.

1922 - The first air conditioned movie theatre opens in Los Angeles (Grauman's Metropolitan Theatre).

1928 - The Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives becomes air conditioned.

1929 - The Senate becomes air conditioned.

1930 - The White House, the Executive Office Building, the Department of Commerce become air-conditioned.

1930 - Railroad diner cars on the Washington-New York route are air conditioned.

1940 - Packard is the first car with 'factory air' as an option

1946 - After World War II, the demand for room air-conditioners began to increase. Thirty thousand room air-conditioners were produced that year.

1953 - Room air conditioner sales exceed one million units with demand still exceeding supply.

1953 - The Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (A.R.I.) is formed from two associations: the Refrigeration Equipment Manufacturers Association and the Air-Conditioning and Refrigerating Machinery Association.

1957 - The first rotary compressor was introduced, permitting units to be smaller, quieter, weigh less, and more efficient than the reciprocating type.

1969 - Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon in space suits with life support and cooling  systems.

1977 - New technology allowed heat pumps to be operated at lower outdoor temperatures while heating on the reversed refrigeration cycle.

1987 - The United Nations Montreal Protocol for protection of the earth's ozone layer is signed. The Protocol establishes international cooperation on the phaseout of stratospheric ozone depleting substances, including chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants.

1990 - ARI, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy, initiates the Materials Compatibility Lubricants Research (MCLR) program, which helped manufacturers to accelerate away from CFC refrigerants.

1992 - The R-22 Alternative Refrigeration Evaluation Program (AREP) begins. This four year program investigated alternatives to HCFC-22 (the refrigerant used in more than half the air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment in the U.S.) and to R-502.

1995 - CFC production in the United States ended December 31, 1995.

1998 - Research for the 21st Century, a multi-year, million dollar research program for air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment, begins. The objective is to decrease building energy usage while improving indoor air quality.

2002 - Shipments of central air conditioners and air source heat pumps hit a record with 6,746,326 units shipped.

2003 - ARI celebrates 50 years of industry excellence.

2004 - The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that it will enforce a 13 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) minimum standard for residential central air conditioners starting January 2006. It increases by 30 percent the minimum 10 SEER standard sold in today's models.

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Last modified: 01/22/05