Frederick McKinley Jones

(1893-1961)

The man who invented the first portable refrigerator system that could keep things fresh was Frederick McKinley Jones.

Jones did not have an easy start in life.  He had lost both his parents by the age of ten.  He left school early and worked as a labourer.  By the age of sixteen, he had learned enough to get a job as a garage mechanic.  Three years later, he had become garage foreman. 

He later became interested in electronics and designed a sound track system for the local cinema.  This led him to getting a job with a firm making sound equipment.  While in this job, he found that a lot of food was ruined by the time it got to the shops – because the ice to keep it cool had melted. 

Before Jones’ invention, lorries and railway cars had to be packed with ice to keep foods fresh.  On average, a quarter of the food was ruined on arrival.  So, in 1939, using parts from the local scrap yard, Jones designed the first practical portable refrigeration system in the world, the design was patented in 1940.

Thanks to this inventor, fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products can be safely transported without going off. Refrigeration also makes it possible to transport blood and medicines safely – a procedure that became very important during World War II.

In all, Jones held over 60 patents in a variety of fields, among them the first portable X-ray machine and devices that deliver automatic tickets and change (money).

Read more about Frederick McKinley Jones in Wikipaedia and here in Biography and here in Black Past.