- NAME: Frederick Jones
- OCCUPATION: Inventor
- BIRTH DATE: May 17, 1893
- DEATH DATE: February 21, 1961
- Did You Know?: In 1944, Frederick Jones became the first African American elected to the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers.
- Did You Know?: In 1991, Frederick Jones was posthumously awarded the National Medal of Technology, becoming the first African American to receive the honor.
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Cincinnati, Ohio
- PLACE OF DEATH: Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Full Name: Frederick McKinley Jones
- AKA: Frederick Jones
Best Known For
Frederick Jones was an inventor best known for the development of refrigeration equipment used to transport food and blood during World War II.
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Frederick Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on May 17, 1893. Jones taught himself mechanical and electrical engineering, inventing a range of devices relating to refrigeration, sound and automobiles. Portable refrigeration units developed by Jones helped the United States military carry food and blood during World War II. Jones died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 21, 1961.
Frederick McKinley Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on May 17, 1893. Both of his parents had died by the time Jones was 9 years old, at which point he went to live with a priest in Kentucky. This living situation lasted for two years. At the age of 11, Jones returned to Cincinnati and found work as a janitor, later working as an automobile mechanic.
Frederick Jones had talent for and an interest in mechanical work. He read extensively on the subject in addition to his daily work, educating himself in his spare time. In 1912, he moved to Minnesota to work as a mechanic on a farm. Jones served in the U.S. Army during World War I, returning to the farm following his service.
It was on the Hallock farm that Jones educated himself in electronics. When the town decided to fund a new radio station, Jones built the transmitter needed to broadcast its programming. He also developed a device to combine moving pictures with sound. Local businessman Joseph A. Numero subsequently hired Jones to improve the sound equipment he produced for the film industry.
Jones continued to expand his interests in the 1930s. He designed and patented a portable air-cooling unit for trucks carrying perishable food. Forming a partnership with Numero, Jones founded the U.S. Thermo Control Company. The company grew exponentially during World War II, helping to preserve blood, medicine and food. By 1949, U.S. Thermo Control was worth millions of dollars.
Over the course of his career, Jones received more than 60 patents. While the majority pertained to refrigeration technologies, others related to X-ray machines, engines and sound equipment.
Jones was recognized for his achievements both during his lifetime and after his death. In 1944, he became the first African American elected to the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers. Jones died of lung cancer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on February 21, 1961.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush awarded the National Medal of Technology posthumously to Numero and Jones, presenting the awards to their widows at a ceremony held in the White House Rose Garden. Jones was the first African American to receive the award, though he did not live to receive it. He was inducted into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame in 1977.
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Everyday life is constantly changing and improving thanks to the ingenious ideas of famous inventors past and present. What once seemed impossible is now possible, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s forward-thinking concepts for flying machines (airplanes), Benjamin Franklin’s useful inventions like bifocals and the lightning rod, and Alexander Graham Bell’s revolutionary “talking machine” (telephone).
The modern era has also produced life-changing advancements whether in science, medicine, the arts, digital media. Music-makers can thank Les Paul for his amazing guitars, while Elon Musk launched the world's first commercial space ship, Steve Jobs' Apple products have made technology beautiful, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page's Google has changed how the world searches for information. These and so many other famous inventors and their creations changed the course of human history. See all inventors.
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