A Brief History of Refrigerators

A Brief History of Refrigerators

A Brief History of Refrigerators

It may be easy to take the benefits of refrigeration for granted, but it’s a technology that has transformed mankind immeasurably over the past century. Although refrigeration has existed in some form or another since at least as far back as the first millennium BC, mechanical refrigerators as we know them today are a relatively new invention.

Ancient Origins

The ancient Chinese are known to have cut and transported ice as far back as 1000 BC, and many other civilisations likely kept perishable foods cool using similar techniques. Even today in Sudan, two clay pots with water in between manages to keep food reasonably cold throughout the day.

A well-known means of preserving meat in antiquity is the salarium, or salary (from Latin “salt payment”) paid to Roman legions. Salt was useful for preserving and curing meats longer and thus commanded a premium in the ancient world.

From Icehouses to Ice Boxes

During colonial times in America, wealthy individuals would commission ice workers to carve out ice blocks from frozen lakes during the winter and transport them to dedicated icehouses, whereby these wealthy few could enjoy a cold beverage or preserve meat or produce for longer. This luxury cost a premium, as much as 25 cents per pound (today, that’s approximately $15.68 per pound in 1700). 

Naturally, demand grew for more affordable ways of providing ice to the masses and thus technological improvements were spurred in the early 19th century by innovators such as Oliver Evans and Michael Faraday, who used various compression techniques in order to create the first ice makers. Until more practical innovations would come about, most families began to use iceboxes in order to keep food cool.

James Harrison’s Mechanical Ice-Making Machine

As a matter of pride, Scottish-Australian refrigeration pioneer James Harrison invented the first practical mechanical ice-making machine in Geelong, Australia in 1851. Commercial ice-making machines then followed in 1854. Soon thereafter, he was commissioned to build industrial-grade machinery that could cool beer in a brewery. Brewers across Victoria, as well as meatpackers, adopted his technology quickly in order to improve their products.

For readers in Melbourne, the commemorative plaque to the “father of refrigeration” can be found at: 100 Franklin Street, Burbank House, Melbourne, 3000. This was the original site of his Victorian Ice Works company.

The 20th Century to Today

The early 20th century saw an increased demand for refrigeration technology, and many American innovators were incentivised to produce affordable refrigerators for everyday Americans. While many new refrigerators still remained unaffordable to the masses, commercial and industrial use began to spread. It was not until 1927 that General Electric introduced one of the first refrigerators to gain widespread appeal, the “monitor-top” (so named for its bulky compressor that resembled the turret of a US warship named USS Monitor).

By the 1950s, post-war wealth and technological innovation allowed many households to own safe, affordable refrigerators once the luxury only the wealthiest could afford. Consequently, the ability to consume foods from further away increased, as did the ability to preserve food for longer and thus reducing waste and saving families money by being able to purchase in bulk quantities.

Modern Refrigerators

For all of their advantages, from allowing us to purchase food in bulk and to preserve meat and produce well past their perishable shelf lives, refrigerators are, even today, prone to malfunction and breaking down with wear and tear. When your refrigerator isn’t performing as well as it should be, contact Domestic Appliance Repair to have it taken care of professionally.

Brands & Suburbs We Regularly Service

Bentleigh | Blackburn | Carnegie | Dandenong | Cranbourne | Heatherton | Moorabbin | Asko | Blanco | Bosch | Chef | Dishlex | Fisher Paykel | Abbotsford | Brighton | Cheltenham | Richmond | Windsor | Doncaster | Newport | Windsor | Frankston| Werribee | Ilve| LG | Lofra | Miele | Smeg | St – George | Technika | Westinghouse | Eastern Suburbs | Northern Suburbs | Western Suburbs

By | 2024-01-09T05:55:52+00:00 January 23rd, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments