Editors Blog


Gargaro's World: If Carrier Is Father, Is Gorrie Grandpa?

September 21, 2009
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“No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater than central air.”

That quote from the movie Dogma might be overshooting, but there is no doubt that air conditioning is an important part of society. I am always thankful I have central a/c on those hot summer days. And on those days, I always thanked Willis Haviland Carrier - the man who invented air conditioning.

I knew that important name before I started in this industry; although I didn’t know the Haviland. To be honest, if that was my middle name, I would keep it on the QT as well.

So imagine my surprise when I was trolling the Internet and ran across the name John Gorrie. The word on the Internet (and that is always correct) is that Gorrie came up with the original concept of air conditioning.

Gorrie was a doctor in the 1840s and was experimenting with gases in order to cool down rooms for patients who were suffering from fevers. He allegedly had the original concept of heating gas by compressing it, cooling it by sending it through coils, then expanding the gas to further cool.

The only thing that prevented him from making cabbage on the deal was a lack of start-up funds and the untimely death of a business partner.

And now Carrier has 1,319 words written about him on Wikipedia, while Gorrie has 306.

Has anyone heard this story? Can someone shed any light on this topic?

For right now, I am going to see if George Washington Carver is really responsible for my lunch sandwich.
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Willis Carrier and John Gorrie

Bernard Nagengast
September 29, 2009
Kyle, read your blog entry in the print issue of the News. Since I did some research on both Carrier and Gorrie over the years, I have some info for you. I just presented a paper on Gorrie at the ASHRAE meeting last January! There are a lot of AC guys besides Carrier, but he gets a lot more publicity because he's the only one with a company advertising for him! Check your fax machine - I sent two items to you. Bern Nagengast consultant to ASHRAE Historical Committee

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