Refrigerator celebrates anniversary: eight facts about the technique in each kitchen

August 8 marked 120 years since the day when the US patented the first technique for product refrigeration

The technique, which every kitchen has, has turned 120 years old. August 8 is considered worldwide the birthday of the refrigerator: on this day in 1899, American Albert Marshall received the world's first patent for the automatic device that refrigerates products. Realnoe Vremya carefully studied the issue and found out: the refrigerator is not as simple as you think! Our publication has collected eight interesting facts about the technique, which can rightly be considered the king of the kitchen.

“Fur refrigerators” of the ancient Persians

In fact, the history of refrigerators begins much earlier than 1899: if you do not take into account the American patent law, we can go even beyond our era.

Even in Ancient Persia, to preserve food and cool drink for the nobility, ice was delivered from mountain glaciers. They managed to keep ice even in the conditions of Equatorial climate. Persian engineers, who lived long before our era, built special buildings with multilayer walls 2 metres thick. These walls consisted of layers of sand, lime, clay. But the main insulating element was animal fur — this was to ensure a low conductivity. These “refrigerators” were densely stuffed with the brought ice and snow and the products could be stored in them for weeks.

We can say that the emperor was the first who engaged in the technical implementation of refrigerators in the state entrusted to him. Photo:

Nero and the introduction of refrigerators

Emperor Nero was a big sweet-tooth: he adored delicacies. So many things there were in the stocks of his cooks: nightingale tongues, grape snails, oysters and the meat of all kinds of animals (for the most part, from the red book). All this was stored in special storage facilities, where ice was constantly brought from the surrounding mountains.

Nero, of course, was a scoundrel, but he took care of his subjects: he ordered to build such warehouses everywhere so that people had access to cool drinks and exotic gifts of distant seas. So we can say that the emperor was the first who engaged in the technical implementation of refrigerators in the state entrusted to him.

French Edmond and Ferdinand Carré worked on the design of refrigerators in the middle of the 19th century. Photo:

Refrigerator working on firewood

French Edmond and Ferdinand Carré worked on the design of refrigerators in the middle of the 19th century. Their models worked on a mixture of water and ammonia: in 1862 at an exhibition in London, Ferdinand presented a machine that made up to two quintals of ice per hour. This was a major technical breakthrough. Carré was entrusted with the design of the world's first refrigerator ship.

And now the pattern faltered: there was no compressor in the fridges of the Carré brothers. They had to be heated with wood. Or coal. One of the first Russian refrigeration machines, Eskimo, worked on the same principle. It was produced in the early 20th century, and it could freeze up to 12 litres of water in one cycle.

Refrigerator advertising in the scientific journal of 1919. Photo:

Fridge or two Ford cars?

In 1910, one of the American companies began to produce the world's first home refrigerators. They were called “home ice factory”, and they worked not on electricity. Such “factories” cost absolutely obscene money: about 1,000 USD of that time. For this amount, one could buy two Ford cars.

The company managed to sell forty cars using titanic efforts, followed by its bankruptcy.

Einstein's refrigerator

Few people know that the great Einstein in his spare from brilliant ideas time worked in the field of household appliances. It was like this.

By 1926, refrigerators were already electric, but they often used toxic substances as a refrigerant. For example, once in the newspaper, there was a story of a German family, whose members were poisoned with sulphur dioxide due to leakage from a faulty refrigerator. Einstein decided to find a less toxic way.


And he did: in 1926, together with his student Leo Szilard, he patented and presented to the public the fridge on alcohol fuel. The right to the patent was even bought by the company Electrolux, but compressor refrigerators on freon were more effective. Therefore, Einstein's idea did not find popularity.

Soviet refrigerators: durability and inaccessibility

The Moscow automobile plant in 1951 began the mass production of legendary refrigerators Moskva. Some of them worked even after 50 years: the famous Soviet quality was achieved by careful execution (the assembly was almost manual) and the use of a large amount of metal in the design. Buyers of retro things to this day are ready to give for such rarities a lot of money: Moskva in working condition can be sold for 3,000 dollars. In non-working, however, it will also be taken with pleasure.

The first Soviet refrigerators were not very accessible to ordinary housewives. They stored products in special niches under window sills (what are known as “Brezhnev refrigerators”) for a long time. In 1962, 98% of families in America had electric household refrigerators. In the Soviet Union — only 5%.

Not only for food products

The original story of the refrigerators, of course, associated with food products. But nowadays refrigeration equipment is used for a variety of purposes. For example, many Russians remember the scandalous story with the “fur storage” of Vladimir Yakunin.

So, the fur storage — this is quite a common thing from the range of refrigeration products. Specialized refrigerators for storage of fur products are produced mainly abroad, but there is also one such enterprise in Russia: this is Pozis plant. Refrigerator for fur coats and hats has a smart mode: for example, it periodically greatly reduces the temperature to kill pests (no, not thieves. Just insects and fungi). It is produced in several colours (there is even a ruby).

When the refrigerator is smarter than its owner

It has been more than a century and a half since the time when refrigerators were stoked with coal and firewood, now they are striving to outdo us in mind and intelligence.

Refrigerator manufacturers compete with each other in the complexity of electronic equipment. Refrigerators broadcast TV programmes, receive messages from smartphones, order products in stores, integrate with voice assistants. But the most popular “smart” function — is the non-admission of the owner in the bowels of the refrigerator after a certain time. This is used by those who want to lose weight but does not have enough willpower to give up eating an evening sandwich.

Smart refrigerators are produced by almost all market leaders. Samsung combines the “brain” of the refrigerator with the smart home system. LG teaches its products to count products and tell the owner that the house ran out of milk and it would be nice to stop by from work in the store. By 2020, Chinese Haier plans to create its “Einstein” in the world of refrigerators (and it will be assembled in Tatarstan — in Naberezhnye Chelny).

By Lyudmila Gubaeva