Date: Fri, 6 Oct 1995 00:31:38 -0700 From: David Harnick-Shapiro Subject: Re: icebox and upstate On Tue, 3 Oct 1995 02:24, "Donald M. Lance" writes: > I suspect that [combinations of ice houses and electric power > plants] were common throughout the country, and that cutting > blocks of ice out of ponds and rivers was pretty well gone by the > 1920s. DMLance I can't claim personal experience, but I'll second the esteemed Prof. Lance on this one, anyway. Let us turn to our hymnals (What? You don't have a copy? Get thee to a library, and take unto thyself ``The Social Shaping of Technology'', Donald MacKenzie and Judy Wajcman, wherein appears Ruth Schwartz Cowan's ``How the refrigerator got its hum'' -- a rollicking good read). [Preparatory to telling us how refrigeration came to the home, Cowan briefly discusses its precursor, commercial refrigeration:] As a result of [extensive research and invention], manufactured ice became available throughout the southeastern United States by 1890 and throughout the northeast (where natural ice was more readily available through much of the year) by 1910. ... Before the nineteenth century had turned into the twentieth, meat packers were using mechanical refrigeration in the handling and processing of meat, cold-storage warehouses had begun to appear in cities, icemen were carrying manufactured ice through the streets, and refrigerated transport (which utilized manufactured ice in railroad cars and refrigerating machines on ocean-going vessels) was becoming increasingly common and less expensive. (p. 204) It's all I can to do keep from typing in the next paragraph, which discusses how large commercial refrigerators were ("a substantial number of them weighed from one hundred to two hundred tons") and how an entire industry developed just to keep them in line ("As automatic controls were primitive, the machine was tended day and night by skilled operators"). Comparing the turn-of-the-century behemoths with their modern domestic descendants, I'm reminded of the "electronic brains", tended by white-coated lab technicians in the Holy of Holies, the Machine Room, and their smaller, fleeter descendants (the things I look after all day at work :-) ObLx: I may be biased, but I think computing has generated a fairly rich jargon/slang/technical vocabulary. (I'm not lumping those categories together -- computing is rich in all three.) But where were the refrig-hackers, breaking into ice houses? The over-worked transportation analogies? (The Chilled Canal? The Eisbahn?) At first, the sexiness of computers and the prosaic character of refrigeration seems a given. But when you consider how both started in remote, industrial research-y arenas, and developed into ubiquitous features of daily life, the question does not seem as far-fetched. So, why *didn't* refrigeration catch the popular linguistic fancy? -------- David Harnick-Shapiro Internet: david[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Information and Computer Science UUCP: ...!{ucbvax,zardoz}!ucivax!david University of California, Irvine