A Short History Of Refrigerators Evolution


Before the invention of the refrigerator, drinks were chilled and food preserved the natural way. Water runoff from melting snow on the mountains would be used to chill drinks and food could be kept in caves in the mountains to keep it fresh. During winter in Asia, water pots with water would be put outside overnight to make ice which would then be used to preserve food. It was obviously a very laborious task which needed to be improved.

What led to the development of the modern refrigerator?

William CullenThere is not a lot of information about the development of the technology that led to the modern refrigerator but it is recorded that the earliest development of an artificial way of refrigeration can be traced down to the seventeen hundreds and to a Scottish professor named William Cullen. In 1755, Cullen invented a machine that evaporated liquids in a vacuum, this was the beginning of the evolution of refrigerators.

Who invented the first refrigerator and when?

Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday

Oliver Evans is credited as the inventor of the first refrigerator. In 1805, he used the technology described and created by Professor Cullen to come up with a vapor compression system which could be used to make ice using ether under vacuum. His work was followed up by Michael Faraday who in 1820 managed to liquefy ammonia and other gasses using high pressure and low temperature. In 1834, Jacob Perkins, an American working in Great Britain invented an even better refrigeration system which was a vapor compressing refrigerator system. Unlike the earlier inventions, this one was able to operate continuously.

How did the first refrigerators look like?

They were a far cry from what we know today as refrigerators. The first refrigerators were more like machines in a factory with big cylinders, collection boxes. The inventors, at that time, were more concern with the process rather than the design.first refrigerators

How long was it before refrigerators were sold to the public?

John Gorrie refrigerator's prototype
John Gorrie refrigerator’s prototype

It took about 45 years from the time Oliver Evans invented the first refrigerator to the time that a commercially viable refrigerator was invented. James Harrison in 1856 patented the first practical vapor compressing refrigerator. This refrigerator could use both ammonia and alcohol. Earlier in 1851 he had built an ice machine which was stationed at Barwon River. In 1854, he invented the first commercial refrigerator that was making ice for selling. Harrison started selling his compressing machine to breweries and meat processing companies. It is important, however, to mention that John Gorrie had earlier built a prototype for commercial use in America, but it was a failure.

How did refrigerators reach households?

Nathaniel Wales
Nathaniel Wales

First of all you should know that households already had non mechanical refrigerators which were known as iceboxes.These ice boxes were made from mahogany on the outside and tin or zinc on the inside. They used ice to keep food fresh. With the invention of mechanical refrigerators, it was now only a matter of time. In 1913, Fred Wolf invented the first domestic refrigerator which was an ice box and a mechanical unit. Earlier domestic refrigerators were actually very big and part of the unit had to be stored in the basement and the other unit for keeping the food cold would be placed in the kitchen.

In 1914 Nathaniel Wales then came up with a more practical refrigerator that had an electrical system which was developed further into the Kelvinator.

What is the Kelvinator?

The Kelvinator is a brand of refrigerators manufactured by Electrolux. This was also one of the first modern refrigerators which was developed by Nathaniel Wales to run on electricity. All modern domestic refrigerators have their roots in the Kelvinator.

The Kelvinator