Notes on German Culture

The first practical refrigerator was invented in Germany in 1873

We don’t give Refrigeration too much thought and take it for granted, but as recently as 100 years ago people were using chunks of ice in boxes to inhibit the destructive action of bacteria, yeast, and mold. In fact consumers that used the icebox in 1910 faced the same challenge of a moldy and stinky icebox that consumers had in the early 1800s…and most people simply purchased meat and produce daily and consumed it on the same day. Carl von Linde’s work started to change all of this.

In 1871 Carl von Linde published an essay on improved refrigeration techniques and 2 years later in Munich he built the first practical and portable compressor refrigeration machine. His invention of a continuous process of liquefying gases in large quantities formed a basis for the modern technology of refrigeration.

Carl von Linde (center) at age 90 in 1932, with the Board of Directors of his Linde Refrigerator Company

Linde’s efficient new refrigeration technology was first offered to businesses. Refrigeration provided big benefits to German breweries…the first was for the Spaten Brewery in 1873… and also to other companies, such as slaughterhouses and cold storage facilities. His technology was then sold all over Europe.

Linde was not only an engineer and scientist, he was also a good businessman, obtaining patents in Germany and in the U.S…In 1877, a patent for his refrigerator from the German Imperial Patent Office just before starting his company, Lindes Eismaschinen AG…and in the US in 1895 for his “Linde oxygen process” and the “Apparatus”. 

Carl Linde’s achievements led to his being knighted in Bavaria in 1897…this is when he became Carl von Linde. And for his continuing scientific breakthroughs he received the 1913 Nobel Prize in Physics. Linde was also the founder of what is now known as The Linde Group, the world’s largest industrial gases company, and ushered in the creation of the supply chain of industrial gases as a profitable line of businesses.

Some fun facts and additional interesting things to know:

… In 1894 Linde installed his refrigerator at the Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland.

… By 1920 there were some 200 different refrigerator models on the market.

… The first refrigerator to see widespread use was the 1927 General Electric “Monitor-Top” refrigerator, the first refrigerator to use electricity.

… 1939 brought the first refrigerator with one section for frozen food and a second for chilled food, first introduced by G. E. 

… Mass production of modern refrigerators didn’t get started until 1946, after World War II.

… By 1955, 80% of American homes had refrigerators.

The Linde Air Products Company in the USA was incorporated in 1907, passed through US Government control to Union Carbide in the 1940s and on to form today’s Praxair.

Carl von Linde (1842 – 1934) awarded 1913 Nobel Prize in Physics and founder of The Linde Group, the world’s largest industrial gases company,

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