When the going gets hot, your ice maker is probably your first port of call. Frosty treats have made their mark the world over and whether you’re a mudslide, mint juleps or Italian ice kind of person, there’s no end to the ways you can cool down. While many ice makers are now included on refrigeration devices, the original machine dates back much further than you would think, right to the middle of the 19th century.
John Gorrie was studying medicine in New York in the 1820s when Frederic Tudor made a name for himself. Promoting the consumption of iced drinks and frozen products, Tudor created a demand for all things cool, single handedly creating the booming ice industry. Years later, when Gorrie was practicing medicine in Florida, he began using Tudor’s product experimentally, seeing how he might use it for treatment applications. His developing practices therefore required a steady stream of ice and rather than waiting for Tudor to fill his demands, Gorrie took matters into his own hands.
Over the course of his studies, Gorrie began to develop a machine in which he could manufacture ice by himself. Using decompression at its core, the machine took the cold energy developed from the compressed gas, using it to cool items on a relatively small scale. In line with his creation, Gorrie published a number of papers on the machine, attracting the negative attention of those profiting from the ice trade. This didn’t stop Gorrie, however, and fueled on to meet a demand in the market, he gave up his medical practice in order to devote his time fully to the ice machine.
As early as 1850, Gorrie had received the patents he needed for his machine and was able to begin producing it on a larger scale. Soon, however, things began to go awry and after the death of his investor and negative press from unnamed sources, Gorrie was unable to find the kind of support he needed for his invention to flourish. His findings were simply too early for the market and before long, the idea was dead in the water.
Thanks to Gorrie’s inventions, however, ice manufactures were finally created years later, bringing the early technology into the modern home. While we take the ice maker for granted, it came about all thanks to Gorrie’s vision and without him, we might not be quite as cool as we are now.