Feed the hungry with just one click.
Help save the rain forest with just one click.
Help a child with just one click.
Donate free mammograms with just one click.
Frederick McKinley Jones

Frederick McKinley Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 17, 1893. Growing up as an orphan and not attending school beyond grade eight, Jones was ultimately to become one of the most prolific black inventors. His genius, as well as his skill and knowledge of mechanical and electrical devices, is evidenced by his 60 patents in divergent fields. Forty of those patents were related to refrigeration.

Jones invented the first practical and automatic refrigeration unit for trucks, which eliminated the problem of food spoilage over long hauls, thus making fresh produce available over wide areas. Subsequently, the unit was adapted to a variety of other carriers, including ships and railway cars.

His invention facilitated the development of international markets for food crops; led to the creation of total industries such as frozen foods, fast foods and container shipping; and altered consumers' eating habits.

Jones's contribution to the World War II effort includes several timely and necessary inventions such as a portable refrigeration unit, which was used to transport vitally needed blood serum and medicines on the battlefields of Europe; an air conditioning unit for military field hospitals designed for the primary purpose of maintaining the temperature of blood serum; and a portable x-ray unit.

Some of his other inventions were specifically designed for the then-fledgling movie industry and include the first process that enabled movie projectors to play back recorded sound—talking pictures—and a box-office device that automatically distributed tickets and change to customers.

Despite his exploits in the movie industry, Jones was primarily concerned with refrigeration. Recognized as an authority in the field and elected to membership in the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers, he also served as a consultant for the Defense Department and the U.S. Bureau of Standards.

Jones also founded a company jointly with his former boss in the motion picture business, Joseph Numero. The company, Thermo King Corp. (initially called the U.S. Thermo Control Company), is a world leader in transport temperature control equipment today, operating on a global scale with manufacturing plants in various countries and accessing global markets.

In 1991, Frederick Jones and his partner were awarded the National Medal of Technology posthumously.
back to top


African-American Inventors: Lonnie Johnson, Frederick McKinley Jones, Marjorie Stewart Joyner, Elijah McCoy, Garrett Augustus Morgan, Fred M. B. Amram. Capstone Press, 1998.
Buy it in school & library binding: Amazon.com

Blacks in Science: Ancient and Modern (Journal of African Civilizations; Vol. 5, No. 1-2), Ivan Van Sertima (ed.). Transaction Publishers, 1990.
Buy it in paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

Blacks in Science and Medicine, Vivian Ovelton Sammons. Taylor & Francis, 1989.
Buy it in library binding: Amazon.com

Dictionary of American Negro Biography, Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston (Editor). W.W. Norton & Company, 1983.
Buy it in hardcover: Amazon.com

Distinguished African American Scientists of the 20th Century, James Kessler (Editor), J.S. Kidd, Renee A. Kidd, Katherine A. Morin. Oryx Press, 1996.
Buy it in hardcover: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

Eight Black American Inventors, R.C. Hayden. Addison-Wesley, 1972.
Buy it in hardcover: Amazon.com
Buy it in paperback: Amazon.com

I've Got an Idea!: The Story of Frederick McKinley Jones, Gloria M. Swanson, Margaret V. Ott. Runestone Press, 1994.
Buy it in school & library binding: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca
Buy it in paperback: Amazon.com

Man With a Million Ideas: Fred Jones, Genius/Inventor, Virginia Ott, Gloria Swanson. Lerner Publications Co., 1976.
Buy it in hardcover: Amazon.com

The Negro Almanac: A Reference Work on the Afro American, Harry A. Ploski (Editor), Bellwether Publishing Co, 1989.
Buy it in hardcover: Amazon.com

Notable Black American Men, Jessie Carney Smith (ed.). Gale Group, 1998.
Buy it in hardcover: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

Notable Twentieth-Century Scientists, Emily J. McMurray, Jane Kelly Kosek, Roger M. Valade. Gale Group, 1996.
Buy it in hardcover: Amazon.com

World of Invention, 2nd edition, Kimberley A. McGrath, Bridget E. Travers (eds.) Gale Group, 1998.
Buy it in hardcover: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

Search for 'Frederick McKinley Jones' on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.
back to top