Air-conditioning America : engineers and the controlled environment, 1900-1960 /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Cooper, Gail, 1954-
Imprint:Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, c1998.
Description:x, 228 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Series:Johns Hopkins studies in the history of technology
Johns Hopkins studies in the history of technology ; new ser., no. 23.
Subject:Air conditioning -- United States -- History.
Air conditioning.
United States.
Format: Print Book
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Hidden Bibliographic Details
ISBN:0801857163 (alk. paper)
Notes:Includes bibliographical references (p. 219-221) and index.
Review by Choice Review

Cooper offers a narrative description of the fits and starts in the development of air-conditioning from 1900 to 1960. She emphasizes the mismatch between the engineering community and the various users who generally misused and misunderstood the systems. The first applications were used for controlling humidity in industrial processes, primarily cotton mills and bakeries. In both cases, the comfort of the workers was secondary so the workers usually rebelled by opening windows, which effectively decontrolled the humidity. As systems were developed for schools and offices, a great controversy arose as to the efficacy of "open windows" for healthy air versus "unhealthy" sealed-up buildings. Theaters proved to be the key to acceptance: once the public tried air-conditioned movies, the demand grew quickly even during the Depression. Refrigerator manufacturers then offered window air conditioners and a mass market developed. A valuable resource but heavy on social and engineering conflicts and light on the engineering and economic realities. All levels. J. C. Comer; emeritus, Northern Illinois University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Choice Review