invention of air conditioning

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pages: 298 words: 81,200

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, cleantech, complexity theory, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Ernest Rutherford, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, greed is good, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invention of air conditioning, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, online collectivism, packet switching, PageRank, patent troll, pattern recognition, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, urban planning

You can’t tell whether Willis Carrier is an anomaly by studying the fine points of his biography. You need a wider view. So let us perform an experiment on the data available on the history of innovation. Take roughly two hundred of the most important innovations and scientific breakthroughs from the past six hundred years, starting with Gutenberg’s press: everything from Einstein’s theory of relativity to the invention of air conditioning to the birth of the World Wide Web. Plot each breakthrough somewhere in one of the four quadrants of this diagram: Classify innovations that involved a small, coordinated team within an organization—or, even better, a single inventor—as “individual.” Classify as “networked” all the innovations that evolved through collective, distributed processes, with a large number of groups working on the same problem.

The result is four quadrants: the first correlating to the private corporation or the solo entrepreneur; the second to a marketplace where multiple private firms interact; the third to the amateur scientist or hobbyist who shares his or her ideas freely; and, finally, the fourth quadrant, which corresponds to open-source or academic environments, where ideas can be built upon and reimagined in large, collaborative networks. By taking this long view, we can begin to answer the question we began with: Just how dominant is the Willis Carrier model of innovation?7 Which quadrant has the most impressive track record for generating good ideas? To give us some bearings, our anchor tenant in the first quadrant—the market-based individual—is Carrier himself, who single-handedly drove the invention of air conditioning and who had clear commercial aspirations for his device. (Gutenberg belongs there as well.) An example of a networked market innovation would be the vacuum tube, the creation of which involved a decentralized network with dozens of key participants, including Lee de Forest, almost all of whom worked either as patent-prone entrepreneurs or research scientists within larger corporations.


pages: 322 words: 88,197

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Book of Ingenious Devices, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, colonial exploitation, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Drosophila, Fellow of the Royal Society, game design, global village, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, HyperCard, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Landlord's Game, lone genius, megacity, Minecraft, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition,, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Oldenburg, spice trade, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, talking drums, the built environment, The Great Good Place, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Victor Gruen, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Wunderkammern

Shopping meccas like L.A.’s Beverly Center became cultural landmarks, and the default leisure activity of hanging at the mall would define an entire generation of “Valley girls.” But as mall culture went global, Gruen’s design became increasingly prominent in the downtown centers of new megacities. Originally conceived as a way to escape the harsh winters of Minnesota, Gruen’s enclosed public space accelerated the mass migration to desert or tropical climates made possible by the invention of air-conditioning. Today, the ten largest shopping malls in the world are all located in non-U.S. or European countries with tropical or desert climates, such as China, the Philippines, Iran, and Thailand. And while the mall itself would expand in scale prodigiously—a mall in Dubai has more than one thousand stores spread out over more than five million square feet of real estate—the basic template of Gruen’s design would remain constant: two to three floors of shops surrounding an enclosed courtyard, connected by escalators.


pages: 476 words: 132,042

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller,, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, charter city, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, computer vision, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping,, Exxon Valdez, George Gilder, gravity well, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, life extension, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, out of africa, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, Picturephone, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

We might disagree on what exactly is sequenced, but a sequence there is. At the same time, history matters. Technological systems gain their own momentum and become so complex and self-aggregating that they form a reciprocal environment for other technologies. The infrastructure built to support the gasoline automobile is so extensive that after a century of expansion it now affects technologies outside of transportation. For instance, the invention of air-conditioning in concert with the highway system encouraged subtropical suburbs. The invention of cheap refrigerated air altered the landscape of the American South and South-west. If air-conditioning had been implemented in a nonauto society, its pattern of consequences would have been different, even though air-cooling systems contain their own technological momentum and inherencies. So every new development in the technium is contingent upon the historical antecedents of previous technologies.


pages: 1,205 words: 308,891

Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N. McCloskey


Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, BRICs, British Empire, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, clockwork universe, computer age, Corn Laws, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Donald Trump, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, European colonialism, experimental economics, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, greed is good, Howard Zinn, income per capita, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, means of production, Naomi Klein, New Economic Geography, New Urbanism, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, tulip mania, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, V2 rocket, very high income, working poor, World Values Survey, Yogi Berra

A Quaker Britain — unlikely counterfactual in 1800, with 20,000 Quakers in an aggressively nationalistic population of 15 ½ million — would have gotten the same prices and opportunities as the actual Britain, allowing for transshipment costs through Amsterdam or Le Havre. The scale of Manchester cotton manufacturing would have been little affected, at any rate if in God’s eyes Manchester had a comparative advantage in spinning cotton. Only the profits (those “rents” I mentioned) in their British addressees would have been lower, because French trans-shippers of cotton would take a cut. If Manchester was the right place to spin cotton before the invention of air-conditioning, then European events would have put it there, regardless of whether Britain won at Plassey or Quebec or Trafalgar or Waterloo. After all, France lost all those battles, and yet the making of cotton textiles flourished in Mulhouse and Lille. Europe as a whole opened itself to the world after Henry the Navigator. Nutmeg became cheaper, even when it was a Dutch monopoly. The European gains from trade were felt indirectly by everyone who bought tropical products.


pages: 1,104 words: 302,176

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) by Robert J. Gordon


3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser,, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yield management

In the coal mining industry, the annual fatality rate per 100,000 miners dropped from 329 during 1911–1915 to twenty-five during 1996–1997.3 The reduction in injuries and fatalities across mining and manufacturing lifted the scourge of income loss and disability for thousands of households. Figure 15–1. Percentage of Employed Civilian Labor Force in Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Work, 1940–2012 Source: Table B-35, Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics), ratio linked back from 1940 to 1947. Just as the invention of air conditioning facilitated the flight of retirees to sunny southern destinations, so it also benefited the productivity, not to mention the comfort, of clerical and other white-collar workers. Productivity was estimated to have been raised by 25 percent among government typists during the 1950s as a result of air-conditioning, and it was rated as the chief boost to worker productivity by 90 percent of American firms in a 1957 survey.