Who invented the ice machine?

30 Jun

Believing cool air would help malaria
patients, Gorrie spent years tinkering
with a machine to make ice, using
compressed air. He obtained a patent
but failed to win financial or moral
support.

“Suffering from a nervous collapse
and devastated by failure, he died in
1855 at age 51,” a Smithsonian
magazine article said.

A half-century later, however,
commercial air conditioning began
making summers bearable even in
Florida. Grateful residents hailed
Gorrie’s pioneering role. A
Jacksonville Middle School named for
Gorrie asked the state Legislature to
honor him with a statue in the U.S.
Capitol. Lawmakers complied in 1911.

Yet some Floridians still believe
Gorrie doesn’t get the respect he
deserves.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum
of American History has stored his
original patented machine, out of
sight, for years. The John Gorrie
Museum State Park, in Apalachicola,
would like to borrow it, said park
ranger Willie McNair. Smithsonian
officials said that may be possible.

Despite the park’s best efforts, McNair
said, Gorrie “is still really not
recognized. Everybody knows about
Carrier rather than Gorrie.”

But Willis Carrier, who produced the
first modern electrical air conditioner
in 1902, does not have a statue in the
U.S. Capitol.

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