Frederick McKinley Jones

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For others with the same or similar names, see Frederick Jones (disambiguation).

Frederick McKinley Jones (May 17, 1893 – February 21, 1961) was an African American inventor, entrepreneur, winner of the National Medal of Technology, and inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.[1] His innovations in refrigeration brought great improvement to the long-haul transportation of perishable goods.[2]

Background[edit]

Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 17, 1893[2] He was orphaned at the age of nine.[citation needed] He was then raised by a priest in Kentucky.[citation needed] Jones left school after grade six and left the rectory to return to Cincinnati at age eleven, where he got a job first as a cleaning boy and by age fourteen he was working as an 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.

Refrigeration[edit]

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. 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[edit]

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. 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. Jones was the first African American to receive the award. He died of lung cancer in Minneapolis in 1961. He was inducted into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame in 1977.

Patents[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Frederick McKinley Jones". Hall of Fame inventor profile. National Inventors Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2011-02-22. 
  2. ^ a b "Frederick McKinley Jones". Black History Pages. Retrieved 2011-02-22.