Science, Inventions, Medicine, and Aerospace

Inventions and Patents

Who invented a refrigeration system for trucks and railroad cars?

Frederick McKinley Jones (1892–1961) was the inventor of a practical refrigeration system for trucks and railroad cars. He received the patent on July 12, 1940. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, his parents died early on, after which he lived in Covington, Kentucky, with a Catholic priest, Father Ryan. His formal education ended in the sixth grade. His keen interest in machines and his obsession with automobiles led him to convert ordinary cars into mint-condition racers. Jones worked as an automobile mechanic and an automobile shop foreman, and later moved to hotel maintenance. While working in a hotel, Jones met a guest from Minnesota who recognized his skills and offered him a position repairing farm equipment and cars in Hallock, Minnesota. Jones became an automobile racer, driving on the dirt track circuit until 1925. He also became movie projectionist in Hallock. By 1930 his self-taught knowledge of movie technology was so effective that he was manufacturing movie sound equipment and later invented and patented a movie ticket dispensing machine. McKinley’s development of the refrigerating device marked a new direction for his efforts, and its success revolutionized the transportation and marketing of fresh foods. In 1991 he was the first black to receive the National Medal of Technology (posthumously).

The implantable heart pacemaker that keeps many people’s hearts beating these days was invented by Otis F. Boykin.


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