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The Cool History of the Air Conditioner

Temperatures in some parts of the country have eased a bit over the weekend. But there is no risk that throngs of people are suddenly going to turn their backs on air-conditioning. The air-conditioner has established itself well in the hearts of Americans. The first widespread use of air-conditioners came during the 1920 when movie theaters used what they called man-made weather to lure customers to the silver scream. After World War 2, the cost for air-conditioners started to come down and manufactures advertised them as for the millions not just for millionaires. Deborah Hawkins, knows how to keep cool. She is chairman of the Air-conditioner and Refrigeration Institute. We called her in her office in Fort Worth. Texas where the temperature this is a balmy, low-100s. Welcome to the program.

Well Thank you.

I assume you've got your air-conditioner going great guns.Yes, we do, Full blast in fact.

All right, take us back, where was the first air-conditioned movie theater in the United States.

Well, it's probably in the Central Park theater in Chicago, Illinois. Willis Carrier considered the king of cool and the founder of air-conditioning actually sold his inventions to movie theater operators during the late 19th and early 20th. And this was one of the first one to have received it. And they actually had some of the largest audiences than anywhere else in the country as you can imagine.

So does the air-conditioner get credit or maybe the blame for the additament of summer blockbusters.

Err, both, Thank you give both. Definitely the term was coin because people were trying to get away from the heat during the summer months and they came in and drove to get out of that into the cool air and watched movies, cause that was probably the only event that allowed them to do that at that time.

And also I assume that the theater just stayed open during the summer.

Well, yearlong, yearlong, Well before they were primarily just open from November to May.

Well, what are some of the other early places to be cooled down by air-conditioning.

Well, right after the movie theaters, the government buildings in Washington D.C were air-conditioned, started with the US House of Representatives building, the Senate building, even the White House and it's funny too becaue prior to that, the lawmakers only worked from November to May, and then they dispersed, you know, went home. And it's funny because most people say this may or may not have been a good idea to allow them to work 12 months all over the year.

When did air-conditioning become a stable of the Middle Class.

Well, actually it started in the 50s when sales exceeded over one million units. And then at each decade, it increased enormously. To where now today, probably 82% of all homes either have room air-conditioning units or central air-conditioning units in America.

Deborah Hawkins, is chairman of the Air-conditioner and Refrigeration Institutions. Thanks a lot, keep cool.

Category :[Technology][Technology Products][History][Special History]
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