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Frederick Jones

Frederick McKinley Jones was a black inventor who helped to revolutionize both the cinema and refrigeration industries.  Between 1919 and 1945 he patented more than sixty inventions in divergent fields with forty of those patents in refrigeration. He is best known for inventing the first automatic refrigeration system for trucks. Jones had talent and an interest in mechanics. He read extensively on the subject in addition to his daily work, educating himself in his spare time. By the time he was twenty, Jones was able to secure an engineering license in Minnesota. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I where he was often called upon to make repairs to machines and other equipment. After the war, he returned to the farm. It was on the Hallock farm that Jones educated himself further 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 and Numero founded a company to market their products, which soon included systems for trains and ships as well as trucks. That company, Thermo King, is still thriving today. Jones’ system continues to allow a greater number of Americans to eat a wider array of foods, regardless of the time of year.

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