Frederick McKinley Jones, African American Inventor   Leave a comment

Frederick McKinley Jones (May 17, 1893 – February 21, 1961) was an American inventor, entrepreneur, winner of the National Medal of Technology, and inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.[1] His innovations in refrigeration wrought great improvement in the long-haul transportation of perishable goods


Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 17, 1893.[2] He was orphaned at the age of nine. He was then raised by a priest in Kentucky. Jones left school after grade Eight and left the rectory to return to Cincinnati at age sixteen, where he got a job as an apprentice automobile mechanic. He boosted his natural mechanical ability and inventive mind with independent reading and study. In 1912, Jones moved to Hallock, Minnesota, where he worked as a mechanic on a 50,000-acre (200 km2) farm. After service with the U.S. Army in World War I, Jones returned to Hallock; while employed as a mechanic, Jones taught himself electronics and built a transmitter for the town’s new radio station. He also invented a device to combine sound with motion pictures. This attracted the attention of Joseph A. Numero of Minneapolis, Minnesota, who hired Jones in 1930 to improve the sound equipment made by his firm, Cinema Supplies Inc.


Around 1935, Jones designed a portable air-cooling unit for trucks carrying perishable food, and received a patent for it on July 12, 1940. Numero sold his movie sound equipment business to RCA and formed a new company in partnership with Jones, the U.S.WORLD WAR II Thermo Control Company (later the Thermo King Corporation) which became a $3 million business by 1949. Jones’s air coolers for trains, ships, and aircraft made it possible for the first time to ship perishable food long distances during any time of the year. Portable cooling units designed by Jones were especially important during World War II, preserving blood, medicine, and food for use at army hospitals and on open battlefields.

 Distinctions and honors

During his life, Jones was awarded 61 patents. 40 were for refrigeration equipment, while others went for portable X-ray machines, sound equipment, and gasoline engines. In 1944, Jones became the first African American to be elected into the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers, and during the 1950s he was a maco to the U.S. Department of Defense and the Bureau of Standards. In 1991, The National Medal of Technology was awarded to Joseph A. Numero and Frederick M. Jones. President George Bush presented the awards posthumously to their widows at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. Mr. Jones was the first African American to receive the award. Jones died of lung cancer in Minneapolis in 1961. He was inducted into the Minnesota Inventors 2011′


  1. 2,163,754, 6/27/1939
  2. D 132,182, 4/28/1940 design for air conditioning unit
  3. 2,336,735, 12/14/1943, Removable cooling units for compartments
  4. 2,337,164, 12/21/1943, Means for automatically stopping and starting gas engines
  5. 2,376,968, 5/29/1945, Two-cycle gas engine
  6. 2,417,253, 3/11/1947, Two-cycle gas engine
  7. 2,475,841, 7/12/1949, Automatic refrigeration system for long-haul trucks
  8. 2,475,842, 7/12/1949, Starter generator
  9. 2,475,843, 7/12/1949, Means operated by a starter generator for cooling a gas engine
  10. 2,477,377, 7/26/1949, Means for thermostatically operating gas engines
  11. 2,504,841, 4/18/1950, Rotary compressor
  12. 2,509,099, 5/23/1950, System for controlling operation of refrigeration units
  13. D 159,209, 7/4/1950, Design for air conditioning unit
  14. 2,523,273, 9/26/1950, Engine actuated ventilating system
  15. 2,526,874, 10/24/1950, Apparatus for heating or cooling atmosphere within an enclosure
  16. 2,535,682, 12/26/1950, Prefabricated refrigerator construction
  17. 2,581,956, 1/8/1952, Refrigeration control device
  18. 2,666,298, 1/19/1954, Methods and means of defrosting a cold diffuser
  19. 2,696,086, 12/7/1954, Method and means for air conditioning
  20. 2,780,923, 2/12/1957, Method and means for preserving perishable foodstuffs in transit
  21. 2,850,001, 9/2/1958, Control device for internal combustion engine
  22. 2,926,005, 2/23/1960, Thermostat and temperature control system

Posted February 17, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Uncategorized

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