DEARBORN, Mich. - Residential air conditioning was voted the No. 1 invention of the last 75 years in a nationwide online poll conducted by historical institution The Henry Ford and America Online.

The Henry Ford, located in Dearborn, Mich., includes the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, the Henry Ford IMAX Theatre, and the Benson Ford Research Center. Steve Hamp, president of The Henry Ford, stated, "While some might find the top vote-getter, residential air conditioning, surprising, the fact is that it changed history. Home air conditioning, which became available in 1929, spurred growth in the U.S. Sunbelt, where it was previously too hot for people to live comfortably without it."

The Henry Ford, founded by automotive pioneer Henry Ford in 1929 and celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, teamed with America Online to give people the chance to choose 10 items from a list of 75 innovations nominated by the institution's historical experts. The poll debuted on Oct. 4 and closed on Oct. 18 with nearly 2.5 million votes cast.

Penicillin was ranked second in the online poll and the personal computer was third.

Publication date: 11/08/2004