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Black Inventors Who Revolutionized Heating and Cooling

Celebrate Black History with These Inventors 

Modern living wouldn't be possible without the inventiveness and ingenuity of people across the ages. All throughout history, people from numerous backgrounds have had a hand in building the civilization and society that we enjoy today. One of the necessities born out of this ingenuity is climate-controlled dwellings. 

Heated and cooled dwellings are a recent invention by humans. With the power of electricity and the engineering of our forefathers, humans can now successfully avoid the violent temperature swings found outdoors. But it hasn't always been this way. This technology has become available in the last century thanks to a handful of inventors. This month, celebrate the black inventors that made civilized living more comfortable. In honor of Black History Month, here are three prominent black inventors that contributed to the development of climate control technology. 

David Crosthwait


Breaking racial barriers early, David Crosthwait became an engineer in 1920 at 22 years old. From there, he moved to Iowa to develop equipment for a local manufacturer. He quickly excelled in the heating and cooling field, patenting devices that became part of a comprehensive heating system. 

His career reached new heights by patenting revolutionary thermostats and developing advanced heating and ventilation systems. His most notable projects were designing heating systems for the Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall. For his achievements, he became the first black member of the American Society for Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers. 

Alice H. Parker

Heating homes in the winter in New Jersey took a lot of work, and Alice Parker knew there had to be a better way. Instead of hauling around heavy wood and messy coal, what if natural gas could be used instead? Until Parker proposed the idea, no one had considered heating homes on a large scale with natural gas. 

A graduate of Howard, Parker was awarded a patent for a natural gas heating system in 1919. Although the system was deemed too dangerous for production, her developments led to some breakthroughs for the heating industry, like ducted heat and zone control, paving the way for cleaner and easier access to heat. 

Lewis Latimer

lewisFor those looking for a success story, look no further than Lewis Latimer. From humble beginnings, born to enslaved parents, the deck seemed stacked against Latimer. But, defying the odds, he served in the US Navy during the Civil War, fighting for the freedom of his people. After the war, he sought employment as a draftsman for the patent office. His excellence in drafting led him to work on projects for Alexander Graham Bell for the telephone and Thomas Edison to improve the production of carbon filaments for light bulbs. 

His contributions to indoor air quality came from a device for cooling and disinfecting the air. In this relatively rudimentary device water or disinfectant was wicked through a cloth held taught by a frame. He was awarded a patent for this design and held over 100 others internationally.

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