The refrigeration system was developed by Frederick McKinley Jones. For the first time, he created a portable air-cooling device, or refrigeration unit, which could be taken anywhere. Thanks to his developments, mobile refrigeration for the long-distance delivery of medical supplies, food, and other perishable products is now more reliable and efficient than ever before.

Even if you haven’t bought new or used fridge vans personally, they have surely made a huge difference in your life. From maintaining the freshness of food while traveling miles to the classic ice cream van, Jones is the guy to thank.

Let’s Get to Know Frederick McKinley Jones

Frederick McKinley Jones was born in the late Spring of 1893 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the birthplace of the portable refrigerator.

A natural mechanic, by the time he was 14, he began working on cars at that age. From there, he furthered his own education via reading and studying, adding to his innate mechanical skill and inventive mind.

Jones left Cincinnati for Hallock, Minnesota, in pursuit of better opportunities there. After working as a farm mechanic, he enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War I. He served his country for a while and then came back to Hallock to work as a mechanic. He kept on learning on his own, and his innate mechanical aptitude served him well in understanding the complexities of electronics.

He used what he had learned to construct a radio station’s transmitter for his hometown. Additionally, Jones created a game-changing invention for the film industry around this time. He created an apparatus that could record audio with moving images. Joseph A. Numero of Minneapolis, Minnesota, noticed this. Jones joined Numero in 1930 and immediately went to work on the company’s audio technology.

The Original Portable Ac System

Jones’s expertise in mechanical and electronic fields continued to grow as he worked tirelessly to design new devices. In 1938, he came up with the idea for portable air-cooling units that are now standard equipment on refrigerated vehicles.

In 1940, he was granted a patent for it, and shortly after, Joseph A. Numero sold his company that manufactured cinema sound equipment to go into business with Jones. They started a business catering specifically to the market for cooling and refrigeration systems. With the advent of the refrigerated truck in 1949, the firm quickly grew to be worth several million dollars.

When it comes to transporting perishable products, no one does it better than Frederick McKinley Jones, the man behind the Refrigeration Unit and the pioneer of mobile refrigeration.

The refrigeration system was developed by Frederick McKinley Jones. For the first time, he created a portable air-cooling device, or refrigeration unit, which could be taken anywhere. Long-distance delivery of food, medicine, and other perishables was made easier because of his advancements in mobile refrigeration.

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

During WWII, the innovations behind the portable air-cooling machine were pivotal. They were put to excellent use moving perishable supplies between military hospitals and out on the open battlefields. It was useful for extending the shelf life of perishable items like food and medication. Patients at military hospitals and field clinics were supplied with blood. The portable air-cooling machine saved lives by allowing supplies to reach the troops on the battlefield.


Highest Accolades And Recognition

Jones kept inventing throughout his life, eventually receiving 40  patents in the field of refrigeration. Although most of his innovations were in the field of refrigeration, his contributions to other fields were no less important. Other inventions that he was granted patents for include portable X-ray devices, enhanced audio/sound equipment, and more fuel-efficient gasoline engines. It didn’t take long for him to earn acclaim as an entrepreneur and innovator. In 1944, Frederick McKinley Jones broke the color barrier and was accepted into the American Society of Refrigeration-Engineers.

As a result, he was able to expand his consulting business in the 1950s, working with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Bureau of Standards. Death came for Frederick M. Jones on May 2 in Minneapolis. Jones was the first African-American to win the National Medal of Technology, which was bestowed posthumously to him by President George H. W. Bush in 1991.

After a long battle with cancer, Jones passed away in Minneapolis in the early spring of 1961. He received the respect he earned both during his lifetime and long after his passing. A member of the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame since 1977. The National Medal of Technology was given to his wife in 1991.

This award, currently called the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, is one of the nation’s highest accolades for those who have made major contributions to the advancement of technology. As a result of his groundbreaking innovations and contributions to the refrigeration industry, Jones was honored with induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007.

Life without refrigerated trucks is unthinkable. There are many different types of perishable goods that may be transported nowadays thanks to refrigeration units. Dairy products, frozen meals, and items that need two different temperatures can all be transported safely and securely by a refrigerated vehicle, also called a reefer. Since its origin, mobile refrigeration has progressed, making it simpler to transport perishable items in a refrigerated truck, van, or trailer.

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