A look at significant technological achievements
Sept. 3, 2012
by Mark Ollig

Technology has led to several significant achievements that have made our lives much simpler and more enjoyable.

The following achievement is one many of us are thankful for, especially during these hot days of summer.

While earlier methods had been devised to cool the air temperature in a room, it was Willis Carrier who invented the modern air conditioning cooling unit.

Just over 100 years ago, July 17, 1902, Carrier had designed a system to cool the air based on four operating principles:

• controlling the temperature.

• controlling the humidity;

• controlling the ventilation and circulation of the air; and

• cleaning the air.

After several years of testing and modification, Willis Carrier submitted and was issued US Patent No. 808,897 for his invention called “Apparatus for Treating Air.”

This particular unit was a “spray-type” air conditioning system which was capable of humidifying the air by heating water, and dehumidifying the air by cooling water.

Carrier researched what came to be known as the “law of constant dew-point depression.”

This is what led him to his next US Patent, No. 1,085,971, which detailed the plans for an automatic control system.

Dec. 3, 1911, during the annual American Society of Mechanical Engineers meeting, Carrier culminated all his research by presenting what is said to be his most brilliant paper on air conditioning. This paper is known as the “Magna Carta of Psychrometrics.”

Psychrometrics charts the relationships of dry and wet air temperature, relative humidity (and its humidity ratio), total heat (expressed as “enthalpy”), dew points, and specific volume.

Willis Carrier had thus supplied the information needed to create an air-conditioning system for any size room.

So, we have Willis Carrier to thank for allowing us to keep our cool.

Where would we be without our dishwasher?

Growing up, yours truly did his share of dishwashing by hand, and so, I have come to appreciate one of my favorite household appliances: the dishwasher.

Credit for the modern-day dishwasher is given to Josephine Garis Cochran, a reportedly wealthy socialite.

During the late 1800s, Cochran had become impatient with having her fine china (it had been in her family since the 17th century) being sometimes broken by her servants while they laboriously cleaned and washed them.

She became resolute in coming up with a method for having her dishes washed faster – and without being broken or suffering any chips while being washed.

She is quoted to have said, “If nobody else is going to invent a dish washing machine, I’ll do it myself!”

And, by golly, she really did.

Cochran designed her dish washing machine with special compartments described in her US Patent as “racks or cages” to place the cups, plates, and saucers in.

Her design also included a knife and fork rack, and one for “glass and other hollow items.”

Cochran’s dishwasher machine used a copper water boiler, and a motor that would turn a wheel which sprayed hot, soapy water out of water-jet pipes from the bottom of the dishwasher. Water then showered down onto the dishes – cleaning them.

Dec. 28, 1886, Josephine Garis Cochran was issued US Patent No. 355,139.

Cochran publically presented and demonstrated the world’s first, modern dishwasher at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.

She formed the Garis-Cochran Dish-Washing Company, which manufactured and marketed her dish washing machines to hotels and large restaurants.

In 1949, her company became part of KitchenAid, which was purchased by the Whirlpool Corporation in 1986.

A copy of Josephine Garis Cochran’s US Patent can be seen at: http://tinyurl.com/9qgx3f4.

I also recognize the invention of William D. Coolidge, as being a significant technical achievement.

Oct. 31, 1916, Coolidge was issued US Patent No. 1,203,495 for the invention of a specific type of vacuum tube used in the medical field.

This vacuum tube’s basic design is still used today – in X-ray machines.

Another important achievement was the creation of a solid-state electrical component called the transistor, which replaced the much larger vacuum tube used in radios and televisions.

It is commonly recognized the transistor is the foundation of modern electronics and computer technology.

Physicists William B. Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter H. Brattain are jointly credited with inventing the transistor.

US Patent No. 2,502,488 for the Semiconductor Amplifier, was issued to William B. Shockley April 4, 1950.

US Patent No. 2,524,035, for the Three-Electrode Circuit, was issued to John Bardeen and Walter H. Brattain on Oct. 3, 1950.

As we all know, the introduction of the home personal computer was, needless to say, revolutionary.

On April 11, 1977, Steve Wozniak filed for a US Patent. His patent description was titled: “Microcomputer for Use with Video Display.”

That same year, Wozniak introduced the world to the Apple II personal computer.

The world has never been the same since.

Stephen G. Wozniak was issued US Patent No. 4,136,359, Jan. 23, 1979.

In addition to his significant technological achievement, the Apple computer, I am also appreciative to Wozniak for personally signing his book, “iWoz” for my eldest son, Mathew.

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