The History of Air Compressor


Air compressors are not new, even to this century, for they have been around for thousands of years. Ancient man used a form of air compressor, a bellows, to fuel fire for forging tools. Although compressors have evolved over time, they still retain the same principle: they mechanically compress air.

Ancient Compressors

  • Blacksmiths of ancient times used the large bellows to intensify their fire so they could more easily forge their iron, and even though those bellows have no resemblance whatsoever to modern-day compressors, they were the first. The ancient bellows inhaled air when expanded, then exhaled via a small opening at the end, forcing a controlled quantity of air to a specific location.

Deep Sea Divers

  • One of first uses of modern air compressors was by deep sea divers who needed a supply from the surface to survive. Successful tests of modern-day diving compressors took place in 1943. Early miners employed steam-powered engines to produce enough pressure to operate their rock drills, even though a ruptured steam line proved to be extremely hazardous for the miner.

Internal Combustion Engine

  • With the invention of the internal combustion engine came a whole new design in air compressors. In the 1960s, self-service, high-pressure, do-it-yourself car washes became popular, all because of the air compressor.

Home Air Compressors

  • Whether you are mechanically inclined and enjoy doing many of your car repairs yourself, or you simply choose to have an air compressor on hand at home to fill bicycle tires, the air compressor has become an affordable piece of garage equipment. Air compressors can be purchased either electrically or gasoline powered and are affordable for most homeowners. A piston pumps compressed air into a pressurized holding tank where it remains until called up to perform tasks such as filling tires or running pneumatic tools.

Portable Compressors

  • Most construction companies use gasoline-powered air compressors that are carried in the beds of pickup trucks. You won’t find a residential home framing crew without an air compressor to run their nail guns, nor will you find a heavy equipment company’s service trucks lacking one as a versatile tool used to fill tires and operate power wrenches. Compressed air is a powerful tool, and today’s units are efficient, pollution minded and affordable.

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