History of the Air Compressor

acs-historyWhat do you think the earliest air compressor is?

To answer that, let’s remind ourselves of the definition: an air compressor is a device used to pressurize ambient room air which is then used to power other devices.

By that definition, maybe one of the earliest compressors is the bellows that you might still use today to stoke the flames in your fireplace. Early versions of bellows go back to prehistoric man (around 5,000 BC) when man began smelting metal tools and weapons. The earliest bellows that look like what you might have in your living room can be seen as early as the 13th century. They  used animal skins as the “lungs.”

Most early bellows were put into use to produce hotter/longer burning fires. The first instance of an air compressor used for something other than fire management shows up in 1762, a “blowing cylinder” powered by a water wheel. It produced a whopping 14 psi. A water-cooled version of this appears in 1872.

In 1857, workers began drilling a tunnel through the Swiss Alps… by hand. One swing at a time this cleared nine inches a day. At this rate, they expected the tunnel to be completed in, oh, about 30 years. Four years after the project began, compressed air was introduced to the drilling and it was completed in 14 years.

Ingersoll Rand plays a role in the history of compressed air, too. In 1871 Simon Ingersoll is credited with the first pneumatic tool- a rock drill.  By the way: IR played a part in the construction of Mt. Rushmore in 1927 by providing the compressors for that gigantic project.

If you think your facility can benefit from the current models, the state-of-the-art, give us a shout. Our experts can guide you through the details and answer any questions you might have.

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Air Components & Systems is the leader in providing efficient compressed air systems, parts, and repair. With locations in Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina, we are able to assist with your compressor needs right away. Call us at (866) 413-8077.