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Frederick McKinley Jones
|Born||May 17, 1893|
|Died||February 21, 1961 (aged 67)|
Frederick McKinley Jones (May 17, 1893 – February 21, 1961) was an American inventor, entrepreneur, winner of the National Medal of Technology, and an inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. His innovations in refrigeration brought great improvement to the long-haul transportation of perishable goods. He co-founded Thermo King.
Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 17, 1893 to a White father and Black mother. His mother deserted him when he was a child. His father struggled to raise him on his own. After he was virtually orphaned at the age of seven, he was raised by a priest at a Catholic rectory in Cincinnati. Jones left school after 6th grade and left the rectory to return to Cincinnati at age 11, where he got a job first as a cleaning boy and by age 14 he was working as an automobile mechanic. He boosted his natural mechanical ability and inventive mind with independent reading and study and the willingness to seek new pastures in his search for advancement, against the odds.
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 1938, 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. Thermo Control Company (later the Thermo King Corporation) which became a $3 million business by 1949. 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. Forty were for refrigeration equipment, while others went for portable X-ray machines, sound equipment, and gasoline engines.
- 1953 Merit Award, Phyllis Wheatley Auxiliary, "for outstanding achievements which serve as an inspiration to youth."
- In 1977, he was posthumously inducted into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame.
- 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. Jones was the first African American to receive the award.
- In the March 2009 issue of Heavy Duty Truck magazine, editor Tom Berg dubbed Jones "The King of Cool", and wrote that his "technological breakthrough redefined the global marketplace, with cultural reverberations felt from the world's largest cities to its most isolated villages."
- U.S. Patent 2,163,754 was issued on June 27, 1939 – Ticket dispensing machine.
- U.S. Patent D132,182 was issued on April 28, 1942 – Design for air conditioning unit.
- U.S. Patent 2,336,735 was issued on December 14, 1943 – Removable cooling units for compartments.
- U.S. Patent 2,337,164 was issued on December 21, 1943 – Means for automatically stopping and starting gas engines.
- U.S. Patent 2,376,968 was issued on May 29, 1945 – Two-cycle gas engine.
- U.S. Patent 2,417,253 was issued on March 11, 1947 – Two-cycle gas engine.
- U.S. Patent 2,475,841 was issued on July 12, 1949 – Automatic refrigeration system for long-haul trucks.
- U.S. Patent 2,475,842 was issued on July 12, 1949 – Starter generator.
- U.S. Patent 2,475,843 was issued on July 12, 1949 – Means operated by a starter generator for cooling a gas engine.
- U.S. Patent 2,477,377 was issued on July 26, 1949 – Means for thermostatically operating gas engines.
- U.S. Patent 2,504,841 was issued on April 18, 1950 – Rotary compressor.
- U.S. Patent 2,509,099 was issued on May 23, 1950 – System for controlling operation of refrigeration units.
- U.S. Patent D159,209 was issued on July 4, 1950 – Design for air conditioning unit.
- U.S. Patent 2,523,273 was issued on September 26, 1950 – Engine actuated ventilating system.
- U.S. Patent 2,526,874 was issued on October 24, 1950 – Apparatus for heating or cooling atmosphere within an enclosure.
- U.S. Patent 2,535,682 was issued on December 26, 1950 – Prefabricated refrigerator construction.
- U.S. Patent 2,581,956 was issued on January 8, 1952 – Refrigeration control device.
- U.S. Patent 2,666,298 was issued on January 19, 1954 – Methods and means of defrosting a cold diffuser.
- U.S. Patent 2,696,086 was issued on December 7, 1954 – Method and means for air conditioning.
- U.S. Patent 2,780,923 was issued on February 12, 1957 – Method and means for preserving perishable foodstuffs in transit.
- U.S. Patent 2,850,001 was issued on September 2, 1958 – Control device for internal combustion engine.
- U.S. Patent 2,926,005 was issued on February 23, 1960 – Thermostat and temperature control system.
- "Frederick McKinley Jones". Hall of Fame inventor profile. National Inventors Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
- "Frederick McKinley Jones". Black History Pages. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
- "Frederick Jones". Biography. Retrieved June 29, 2020.
- "Frederick McKinley Jones". Minnesota Science and Technology Hall of Fame. Minnesota High Tech Association / Science Museum of Minnesota. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
- Smith, Jessie Carney (2012). Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events. Visible Ink Press. p. 613. ISBN 978-1-57859-424-5.
- "July 12: Frederick M. Jones Patents Refrigeration System", Rebecca Goodman and Barrett J. Brunsman, This Day in Ohio History (Emmis Books, 2005) p. 214.
- Virginia Ott (November 1976). Man with a Million Ideas: Fred Jones, Genius/Inventor. ISBN 978-0-822-50761-1.
- Gloria M. Swanson, Margaret V. Ott (1994). I've Got an Idea: The Story of Frederick McKinley Jones (reprint ed.). Lerner Publishing Group. p. 95. ISBN 0-82259-662-8.