A Brief History of Air Conditioning

On the 31st of March, 1979, an air conditioning system was installed in a house that later I moved into. This would be the house in which we currently live. I know the exact date as the information is stuck to the inside of the linen cupboard.

The installer, Clifford Air Conditioning of Brookvale promised “many years of comfort living,” and I would agree Clifford, that 35 is probably a good innings for a split system.

I was given an early Christmas shock when the system shuddered to a grinding halt a few days before the big day. I was interested to see that Clifford Air Conditioning of Brookvale was still in operation, although had a very scanty presence on the internet.

Mr Woog, who breaks out in panic if the temperature hits the high 20’s, spoke with the Landlord. We got a few quotes, and the installer came last week and put in a spanking new Daikin.

Calm has once again been restored, with Mr Woog going outside, I swear just so he can come back inside and praise the air.

The whole thing got me thinking.


When did air conditioning become an essential?

According to the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association – Australia, it was the early 1940’s. But again, it those Romans who paved the way. Wealthy Romans would have cool water running through their dwellings in an attempt to cool the air.

But it was a Merkin who actually invented the first unit. It was not compact.

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“The first modern air conditioning units were invented in 1902 by Willis Haviland Carrier. Carrier’s invention was given a patent in 1906, though he called his invention an ‘apparatus for treating air’.” – From A Brief History of Air Conditioning.

I was born and spent my first 5 years in the regional town of Tamworth, NSW. When it was really hot, my Mum would take us to Treloars of Tamworth, the local department store, where we would steal their air conditioning for a few hours, and ride a new fangled device called an escalator.

It was at about the same time that I remember trips in the car, long trips, which was done without the benefit of air-con. You would literally stick to the vinyl seat and scream with pain when you had to alight from the car.

I did better that Neil Diamond though. We lost many a cassette copy of A Hot August Night due to the sun baking it into the dashboard.

Could you live without Air Con?

Do you live without Air Con?