Frederick McKinley Jones: A Great Black Inventor with 60 Patents for Inventions


was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 17, 1893. He was a young orphaned at a very young age. At an early age, Jones showed a great interest in mechanical working, whether taking apart a toy, a watch, or a kitchen appliance. Eventually he became interested in automobiles, so much so that upon turning 12 years of age, he ran away from his home at the rectory and began working at the R.C. Crothers Garage. Growing up as an orphan, he did not attend school on the regular, and only attended it up to 8th grade. Despite his lack of formal education, he became of the most prolific . He had patents for at least 60 inventions and 40 were related to refrigeration. Jones is most known for the automatic refrigeration unit for trucks, which kept food from spoiling on long drives. Fresh foods from long distance drives are still received today because of his invention.


According to Black History Pages, 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.

Jones also had inventions related to the movie industry such as 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. Although, he invented successful inventions in the movie industry, Jones had a passion and great interest in the refrigeration business. He also founded a company with a former boss in the motion picture business, Joseph Numero. The company, Thermo King Corp, which was initially called U.S Thermo Control Company, a world leader in transport temperature control equipment. Later, and his partner were awarded the National Medal of Technology.



  • […] a profile on Black Then, Jones is said to have patents for at least 60 inventions, with more than 40 of those related to […]

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