The desire, need, and process of preserving food originated as early as 1000 BC, when the Chinese began cutting and storing ice in order to keep food fresh. Other preservation techniques, including that of salting and smoking, were also developed around this time in order to keep food fresh and safe during the warmer months of the year. However, these techniques were not foolproof, and as the ice melted, or the salted food became contaminated, the safety of the food was questioned. Therefore, the modern world needed a reliable way to ensure food safety.
Therefore, in 1755 a Scotsman known as William Cullen created the first refrigeration machine. This apparatus worked by creating a small vacuum to limit the introduction of heat and prevent the escape of cool air. However, this machine did not use or create ice. Advancements on this model continued in the United States and Great Britain throughout the 19th century.
By 1856, the first patent for an ice-making machine was approved for the British journalist James Harrison. However, as this machine was quite large, and bulky, it was only useable for breweries, meat packinghouses, and other factory businesses.
The first domestic refrigerator able to be used within a household was invented in 1913 by Fred. W. Wolf of Fort Wayne, Indiana. He combined the refrigeration unit from the 1800s with the most recent icebox in order to manufacture a single multi-purpose unit for sale. Over the next few years, this refrigeration system was further developed to be cooled through electricity, instead of through the ice in the icebox. This new advanced model went up for sale in 1918 by the Kelvinator company.
Over the next few decades other companies including Frigidaire and General Electric began building their own version of the refrigerator. Soon, by the 1930s over a million units had been produced and sold. Freon, a more efficient refrigerate chemical was introduced shortly thereafter, however due to environmental concerns this chemical was banned in the 1980s.
Today, refrigerators and freezers are present in every house throughout the country. Without their invention, frozen and perishable food items would not be able to be kept, stored, and consumed at their current rate. Therefore, refrigeration is considered a necessity for the modern world.