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The number of patents in existence when Charles Kettering invented his refrigerating apparatus was well over one million. In 1932, he received a patent that would forever change how we live. Of course, the idea of protecting food by keeping it cold longer had been around a while. Even ancient cultures devised ways to do it and, on the farm, spring houses were common--separate structures with cold water running through the floor that kept milk and other items from perishing. Ice boxes were also used in England prior to Kettering's patent. And, gas-compressing refrigerators were on the US market in the 1920s. So why is Kettering, a man from Dayton, Ohio, credited with his 'apparatus?'
For one thing, toxic gases were leaking from US products and were even proving fatal in some cases. Kettering was an employee working for Frigidaire Corporation charged with finding a way to make refrigerators safer. His patent actually covers a way to make a commercially successful way to use a new gas called Freon. It quickly became a new standard and--even though it's since been proven to cause damage to the ozone layer--is still widely used today. Kettering is now a famous name in itself and is recognized as an inventor extrordinaire. It turns out Charles was a man with many ideas and is credited with various other new inventions in a variety of fields of study. The famous Sloan-Kettering cancer center is named for Charles Kettering of Dayton, Ohio.