This Howard University Alumna Invented One of Today’s Most Used Conveniences

blue and white plastic pipe
Alyssa Guzik
November 29, 2023

The concept of central heating wasn’t new. By the early 1900s, it had been around for over a century. However, it was still hard to find warmth outside the small area where the heat originated. This drove Alice H. Parker mad.

An alumnus of Howard University Academy High School and its sister school, Howard University, Parker realized that there was a fundamental flaw in how furnaces and fireplaces heated areas. Thinking outside of the heating box, Parker came up with an idea.

Using the concept of central heating, Parker devised that there could be a way to harness natural gas. The system would take in cold air, use a central internal mechanism to heat it, and then distribute it in every direction. By doing this, heat wouldn’t be limited solely to the space around a heater. An entire home could be heated at the same time.

Parker applied for and received the patent for the first central heating system on December 23, 1919. Less than 20 years later, her invention worked with other inventors’ ideas for ductwork distributed heating systems.

Parker’s creativity fueled the development of the same heating systems we use today. Parker changed the world long before we knew it.  What kinds of inventions can you imagine that will be a benefit for future generations of our people?

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