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Spring Training and... HPAC Engineering?

March 5, 2024
Fifty years ago, we handed out HPAC bats and encouraged advertisers to "reach the heavy hitters." Today, as we near our 95th birthday, we look back on some of our rich history.

Ten years ago this spring, Mike Weil, who served as HPAC Editorial Director at the time, penned this brief history of HPAC Engineering. Note: If you take this month's HPAC quiz, you may find a few answers in the words below!

May, 1929... America didn't know it, but it was on the verge of the worst economic disaster in the history of the country: The Great Depression. That was the year that Herbert Hoover assumed the role of President of the United States. And it was the year that a Chicago-based publishing company named Domestic Engineering introduced its newest trade journal: Heating, Piping and Air-Conditioning magazine. Back then, an annual subscription cost $3, and there were 7,000 HVAC engineers, contractors, and supervising and operating engineers who subscribed nationwide.

In 1929, the first issue of Heating, Piping, and Air-Conditioning magazine (the name changed to HPAC Engineering in May, 1999) included a special section for the American Society of Heating and Ventilation Engineers (ASHVE) — a forerunner of today’s ASHRAE (formerly known as the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Airconditioning Engineers). Called the ASHVE Journal, this section contained research papers delivered during the society’s winter and annual meetings, as well as society news and information. 

Guess what? This special section, which ran monthly, eventually became today’s ASHRAE Journal. 

In 1959, with the birth of ASHRAE Journal, HPAC editor Bob Roose, P.E., replaced the journal section with what he called, “The HPAC Engineering Data File”—a monthly feature focused on a single topic of high interest to the magazine’s readership. Topics included: high-intensity infrared heating, evaporative cooling system design, air-to-water pollution control, and preventive maintenance of heating and air conditioning systems.

In the very first issue, Willis Carrier wrote an article titled,”Air Conditioning — New Prospects for an Established Industry." In it, Willis Carrier himself  highlights the then 25-year-old industry he helped to found and presents prospects for its continued growth, prosperity, and impact not only on industry, but on society.

  • In issue one, volume one, founding editorial director R.V. Sawhill wrote an introduction establishing the reason why publisher Domestic Engineering started the new magazine:

“The design, installation and operation of heating, piping, and air-conditioning systems equipment afford an opportunity for an engineering editorial service which is limited only by the possibilities for improving human comfort and health and increasing production efficiency.

“This issue is the first step in a carefully reasoned program of operation aimed to supply the technical and practical information and data needed in this work.”

This remains the magazine’s mission to this very day.

  • The first-issue articles covered the development of air conditioning in industry, industrial piping, a future look at heating in 1940, and refrigeration’s state of development and what its future held. It had case studies including, “Applying Warm Air System to Churches” and “Piping—For High Pressure.”
  • The first ASHVE Journal section covered “Air-conditioning in a Detroit-area Office Building,” “Overall Heat Transmission Coefficients Obtained By Tests and By Calculation,” and “Capacity of Radiator Supply Branches for One and Two-pipe Systems.”
  • In 1929, HPAC began life with a board of consulting editors that included three consulting engineers AND a separate board of 37 contributing editors. 

We look forward to continuing our service to the industry via our expansion into digital and social media. Thanks for your readership, your comments, and input as we move down the road toward our centennial celebration (in 2029)!