History of Refrigerators from 1000 BC to Present

This page shows a timeline of refrigerator advances through out history starting in 1000 BC to the present RV fridge.

The following is a timeline built from research during our patenting process of the Fridge Defend by ARP.

Click here to view an RV Refrigeration History of Patents.

RV Fridge History Time Line (BC)

The Chinese stored ice due to winter freezing - seems like a natural thing to do - great way to start a time line!

The Egyptians use cold night time temperatures to make ice and then store it.

RV Fridge History Time Line (AD)


In England, ice is collected during the winter and stored in ice houses. Seems that the English were a little behind the Chinese, only 2700 years regarding fridge history!

Dr. William Cullen uses a vacuum for evaporation of liquids – please note that there is a relationship between the temperature a fluid freezes at and the pressure. Note that this time line starts with the governing principles for the ARP Control and RV fridge history.

Thomas Moore coined the term "refrigerator". More was an engineer from Maryland USA and his device was truly an ice box and was simply a wood tub with rabbit fur insulation filled with ice which was designed for the transport of butter.

Oliver Evans works on compressed ether for refrigeration.

Michael Faraday liquefied ammonia to cause cooling – note that Faraday was one of the fathers of electrical power generation.

Jacob Perkins makes a compression refrigeration ice making machine which is the first true refrigerator – see 1805 above.

James Harrison invents compressed ether machine – see 1805 above.

Dr. John Gorrie finds that rapidly expanding gases are cooled; this would be considered the vapor-compression method which is the current method for a typical household refrigerator where a compressor forces gas through a restriction and then expands. Gorrie was attempting to cure the tropical disease which was thought to be caused by hot weather - malaria.

Edmond Carre invents an absorption fridge cooler that uses sulfuric acid absorbed by water - this is the true beginning of RV fridge history because an absorbent is used for the phase change of gaseous sulfuric acid to liquid by absorption into the water.

William Thomson & James Prescott theorize that cooling increases in proportion to the pressure difference.

Dr. John Gorrie builds compression cooler using Faraday method - see 1820.

James Harrison hired to build a machine that can cool beer.

First refrigerated rail car introduced by Chicago meatpacking industry.

Ferdinand Carre developed the first ammonia absorption refrigeration unit that uses water as the absorbent - the next step in RV fridge history. See 1850, Ferdinand is Edmond's brother.

First refrigerated railway car to carry fruit.

Carl von Linde publishes an document on improved refrigeration techniques.

Carl von Linde first practical and portable compressor refrigeration unit.

Raoul Pictet uses a compressor system using sulfur dioxide instead of ammonia – note that sulfur dioxide is a toxic gas.

Carl von Linde used methyl ether, but changed to an ammonia cycle.

Carl von Linde starts Lindes Eismaschinen AG, now Linde AG.

Edmund J. Copeland and Arnold H. Gross start Leonard Refrigerator Company.

Linde developed the ‘Linde technique for the liquefaction of large quantities of air.

Linde AG installs refrigerator at the Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland.

Carl von Linde produced large amounts of liquid air using the Thomson-Joule effect.

US Pat. 665,814 issued January 10, for an ice box.

General Electric company unveiled a refrigerator invented by a French monk, Abbe Audiffren.

Fred W. Wolf Jr. of the Domelre Company (DOMestic ELectric REfrigerator).

Leonard Refrigerator Company renamed Electro-Automatic Refrigerating Company.

Alfred Mellowes builds self-container refrigerator for home use.

Henry Joy of Packard Motor Car Co. purchased the Fred W. Wolf refrigerator rights.

Guardian Frigerato purchased by General Motors and renamed Frigidaire.

Electro-Automatic Refrigerating Company renamed Kelvinator.

Approximately 200 different refrigerator models on the market.

Baltzar von Platen and Carl Munters introduce absorption process refrigerator while they were still students at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, enhanced the principle with a 3-fluid configuration. This is the process used for RV fridges, the true beginning of the modern RV fridge history.

Baltzar von Platen and Carl Munters granted patent March 8.

Kelvinator introduces first refrigerator control with automatic temperature control. Kelvinator held 80 percent of the market for electric refrigerators.

AB Arctic begins production of refrigerators based on Platen-Munter's invention - see 1922.

Electrolux purchases Pleaten and Munter patent. AB Arctic and launches the first absorption fridge, "D-fridge" on the world market – note that Electrolux goes on to form the Dometic company to supply RV refrigerators.

Albert Einstein and his former student Leó Szilárd proposed an alternative design known as the Einstein refrigerator – Einstein’s motivation is deaths caused by the toxic refrigerants used at the time.

General Electric "Monitor-Top" refrigerator – a commercial success with over 1,000,000 units sold.

First built-in refrigerator is launched by Electrolux.

Dupont produced commercial quantities of R-12, trademarked as Freon.

The first air-cooled refrigerator introduced by Electrolux.

Frank Gibson, manufactured a line of refrigerators.

Non refrigeration fact, see 1926, Leó Szilard conceived the "nuclear chain reaction" in this year.  These guys developing refrigeration where not slackers!

The Shelvador refrigerator is introduced by the Crosley Radio Corporation.

Albert Henne synthesizes refrigerant R-134a.

10 million absorption refrigerators sold!

Approximately 2 million Americans owned refrigerators.

General Electric (GE) introduces two section refrigerator, one section for frozen food and a second for chilled food.

Mass production of modern refrigerators is now started. The troops coming home from WW-II have money to spend!

GE two-door refrigerator-freezer combination.

Approximately 80% of American homes have refrigerators.

Electrolux sells the Dometic fridge for the new RV market. This is RV fridge history; the photo above is one of these classic cooling units.

Refrigerator Safety Act passed, this act mandates that a pressure of 15 pounds of force shall open the fridge door. This act was passed to protect children from entrapment within discarded fridges that had latching doors. This brought on the magnetic door seal.

Norcold is formed as a family business. We bought our first Dometic fridge that lasted 35 years and served us well in the deserts of Baja California!

Modern RV Fridge with Electrical Controls

Electrolux sells Leisure Products line to venture capital company EQT and Dometic Group is formed.

Norcold is awarded patent 7,050,888 titled CONTROL SYSTEM AND METHOD OF CONTROLLING AMMONIUM ABSORPTION REFRIGERATORS. This control used the cabinet thermistor to control the cooling unit. If the heat source was turned on, a timing period started counting for 45 minutes. If after 45 minutes the temperature inside the fridge cabinet did not lower, it is assumed the cooling unit was not functioning. Thus, the fridge was turned off and a code of NO CO was flashed on the display. This was a very good first step, but the fridge can destroy itself in around 15 minutes if the boiler overheats. See following link: Patent 7,050,888

Approximately 99.5% of American homes have refrigerators.

10 million refrigerators produced in Dometic factory in Motala.

Paul Unmack instruments absorption refrigerators and finds that the process can be controlled by limiting the boiler temperature. Thus, the first Absorption Refrigeration Protection Control (ARP) is reduced to practice.

ARP Control patent application publication is published, see US20080115513 A1.

US Patent 8,056,360 – After rigorous prosecution, ARPrv Control patent is granted.

Norcold recognizes that the ARP Control solves a long felt need and files a patent application 13/279,361 titled ABSORPTION REFRIGERATOR UNIT WITH TEMPERATURE AND LEVEL MONITORING. Sound anything like an ARP Control? Click on following link and decide for yourself: Norcold Patent Application Publication.

ARP Control is introduced to the public at Good Sam/Camping World Rally. Good Sam makes RV fridge history?

Norcold patent application filed in 2011 is rejected by the US Patent Office citing that the ARP Control already solved the issues associated with temperature and level monitoring. By attempting to re-patent the ARP Control Norcold confirms the need and usefulness of the ARP Control.

If you have information you would like added to our time line, please contact us using the Contact Us button below.