Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Air Compressor History: The Invention and Application of an Invaluable Industrial Machine

Modern air compressors aid in industrial, commercial, and residential operations. You can find these machines powering homeowner power tools or large-scale commercial processes in chemical and refrigeration plants. It is strange to learn that this innovative tool started from the humblest beginnings. Read the story of air compressor history, from its earliest iterations to its most current models.

Air Compressor History 101

The Inception of the Modern Marvel

The human lungs were the first air compressors known to mankind. The earliest humans used their breath to help produce fire for warmth and meal prep, blowing on embers to create flames. As people started working with metals such as tin, gold, and copper, they found human breath inadequate. The lungs created too much carbon monoxide but insufficient pressure for metal work. The metallurgists of Sumeria and Egypt invented blowpipes to help resolve the problem.

Archaeologists continue to discover evidence of blowpipes in ancient metallurgic societies. The tools helped metal workers introduce fresh oxygen into underground furnaces, keeping fires hot and continuous. While the instrument was a significant advancement in air power and control, it wasn’t until 1500 B.C. that air compressor history took its first major step toward the modern air compressor.

The Bellows

Bellows, invented in the European Middle Ages, helped speed up the combustion process for metalwork. Blacksmiths and iron workers used the tools to introduce oxygen into their forges.

Bellows are handheld or foot-powered devices made of a top and bottom plate connected with a hinge. The sides are flexible, allowing for free movement. An inward opening valve enables the tool to draw in air when separating the top and bottom plates. When compressing the tool, the valve contracts, and the air gets pushed through a nozzle, creating targeted air pressure.

With the creation of bellows came a greater understanding of the power of air pressure. People integrated the tools into reed and pipe organs, demonstrating the versatility of a gas most took for granted and celebrating the ingenuity of the human mind.

The Engineers and Mechanical Compressors

When discussing air compressor history, you cannot forget about the original engineers that birthed the blueprint of what became all modern compressors. John Smeaton, in 1762, was the first professional engineer to use a water wheel to power a blowing cylinder.

In 1776, an English inventor, John Wilkinson, revamped the concept of Mr. Smeaton, creating the early prototype for mechanical compressors. Mr. Wilkinson’s invention was a more sophisticated and efficient blasting machine.

Still, it wasn’t until 1829 that a patent was filed for the first official compound air compressor. The device made it possible to contain compressed air in multiple cylinders, becoming a closer approximation to modern designs.

The new design allowed for new applications. In 1858, the Mont Cenis Tunnel in the Swiss Alps began construction. Workers originally drilled by hand, clearing roughly 9 inches of material daily. Developers expected the project to take a minimum of 28 years to complete. In 1862, crews began using compressed air drills, allowing them to complete the project in 14 years.

The Second Industrial Revolution and Beyond

Air compressor history took a significant turn at the turn of the century. The United States was in the midst of its Second Industrial Revolution, transitioning from handmade industrial and consumer goods to machine-assisted production with the help of compressed air.

In 1910, the introduction of portable, single-stage compressors, driven by steam and oil engines, aided in rapid city and urban development. These compressors allowed for portable power tools and the faster creation of bridges, railroads, skyscrapers, houses, and much more.

In 1933, manufacturers created the first two-stage, air-cooled, portable compressor. Following the invention, free air delivery began using standard ratings and sizes. Then, in 1935, Alf Lysholm created the first twin screw compressor for steam and gas turbines.

As the century progressed, global development continued. Engineers, inventors, businesses, and governments found new and inventive ways to use compressors.

Today, air compressors are a part of nearly every industry and contribute to the global economy through increased productivity and production. The device changed the course of civilization and remains integral to communities around the world.

Air Compressor History: Modern Systems and Designs

Positive Displacement and Dynamic Compressors

The two most common compressors are positive displacement and dynamic compressors. Positive displacement options are the most common type of air compressor because they are often portable and ideal for smaller spaces.

Dynamic compressors increase static pressure using rapidly rotating blades. These systems include screw compressors and rotary compressors. The system is most beneficial to the manufacturing industry and for cooling systems.


While air compressors are essential and useful tools, they are also prone to problems. From providing insufficient pressure to not powering on, compressors are complex and sometimes touchy pieces of machinery.

There are many potential causes of your device not working. Some of the most common issues stem from faulty wiring or switch problems. You might fix some problems by simply using a reset button, but you shouldn’t have to use this option repeatedly. If you find you constantly need to reset the system, call a repair professional.

Because problems can stem from frayed wiring, broken plugs, or something else, it is important to hire a professional. Working on mechanical and electrical equipment is dangerous work, and it is not worth injury or worse.

Beyond Air Compressor History

Antler Pumps and Air Compressor Maintenance

Air compressor history teaches how important the device was to society. The tool allowed for rapid societal developments, truly altering the course of human history. Still, to this day, air compressors are essential to industrial and manufacturing industries. They also contribute to the operations of NYC buildings, both residential and commercial.

Antler Pumps not only appreciates air compressor history and the device’s power and utility, but we also understand the intricacies of its mechanics and operations. If your building is struggling with an existing compressor or needs an upgrade, contact our service at 212-534-2500. We are always happy to help a fellow New Yorker.

Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

1. Purpose.

This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with

3. Use of Information.

Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

  • Improve our services and the Website’s content and layout;
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  • As otherwise described to you at the time of collection.

We may occasionally ask you to complete optional surveys. These surveys are used to improve and customize your experience with

The Company always provides you the ability to opt-out of further communication such as promotions and surveys; see the Opt-Out section below.

The Company does not share any of your personal information with outside organizations, companies, individuals, etc. The only exception to this standard is if such a disclosure is reasonably necessary to respond to any and all legal processes.

4. Links to Other Sites.

The Website may have links to other websites that may collect personally identifiable information about you. The Company is not responsible for the privacy practices of the content of those linked websites.

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The Website has strict security measures in place to protect you and your information from fraud. Once your information is provided to Omnia Mechanical Group, we strive to ensure the confidentiality of your identity and information.

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The Company provides you with the opportunity to opt-out of receiving promotional and other non-essential, marketing-related communications from Omnia Mechanical Group. If you would like to opt-out of these select communications, please see any of the Company’s email communications and follow the directions indicated.

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Your password ensures the security of your account. When choosing a password, the Company suggests using various characters. It is highly recommended that you do not disclose your password to anyone. (If you do disclose your password or your personal information with others, you are responsible for all actions taken in the name of your account.) If the security of your password is compromised for any reason, please contact the Company immediately.

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The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

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The Company may place a small cookie on your computer’s hard drive. This allows us to personalize your use on the Website. In order to maximize the functionality and usability of the Website, you must set your browser’s preferences to allow both permanent and temporary cookies.

10. Changing Your Personal Information.

Should your personal information change, please immediately update your information on the Website. This will ensure the accuracy of our records. The Company does retain personal information from closed accounts in order to comply with law and collect and disburse any fees owed.

11. Third Parties

This Privacy Policy addresses only the use of information we collect from you. Since does not control the privacy policies of third parties, you are subject to the privacy policies of those third parties. It is advisable that you consult with the management of third parties before you disclose your personal information to others.

12. General

We may amend this Privacy Policy at any time by posting the amended terms on the Website. All amended terms are immediately effective after they are initially posted on the Website.

13. Privacy Policy Questions & Concerns

Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: