Main Page - Latest News

Did a black man invent the air conditioner?


According to Black Power Activists, Frederick McKinley Jones invented the air conditioner along with dozens of other things.

In 1902, Dr. Willis Carrier, a white man, built the first air conditioner to combat humidity inside a printing company. In 1906 Carrier took out the first patent for a modern air conditioner that both cooled and dehumidified.

Around 1915 Carrier Engineering Corporation began manufacturing air conditioners for the public.

Frederick McKinley Jones took out a patent for a truck mounted air conditioner in 1948. The patent is titled “air conditioning unit.” So the Black Power industry have used the title of his patent to say he “invented the air conditioner.”

Some Black Power websites are also crediting Jones with inventing the refrigerator. Other sites credit Thomas Elkin, a black carpenter who took out a patent for a non-mechanical ice box, as the inventor of the refrigerator. One site claims Jones also invented audio and video equipment related to the movie industry. His only patent that appears unrelated to the air conditioning industry is for a ticket dispensing machine.

Joseph A. Numero, a white engineer and Frederick McKinley Jones launched the Thermo King Company in 1938. The company was a success. In 1997 it was purchased by Westinghouse. In 1991, George Bush awarded the Medal of Technology to the widows of Joseph A. Numero and Frederick McKinley Jones.

Frederick McKinley Jones was a very successful inventor who contributed greatly to the field of transport temperature control systems. However he did not “invent the air conditioner.” Also, as you can see from the picture, he only has partial sub-Saharan ancestry.