Frigidaire is the US consumer and commercial home appliances brand subsidiary of European parent company Electrolux. Frigidaire was founded as the Guardian Frigerator Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and developed the first self-contained refrigerator (invented by Nathaniel B. Wales and Alfred Mellowes) in 1916. In 1918, William C. Durant, a founder of General Motors, personally invested in the company and in 1919, it adopted the name Frigidaire. The brand was so well known in the refrigeration field in the early-to-mid-1900s that many Americans called any refrigerator (of whatever brand) a Frigidaire. The name Frigidaire or its antecedent Frigerator may be the origin of the widely used English word fridge, although more likely simply an abbreviation of refrigerator which is a word known to have been used as early as 1611.
During the years that Frigidaire was owned by General Motors, it was very competitive in the automatic clothes-washing-machine business. Frigidaire engineer Kenneth Sisson, also credited with the design of the incrementing timer used on clothes washers and dishwashers for years to come, designed the Frigidaire automatic washer with the Unimatic mechanism in the late 1930s. Production of the first Frigidaire automatic clothes washers was halted due to World War II and therefore the machine was not formally introduced until 1947. The washing action of a Frigidaire automatic was unique in that the agitator pulsated up and down, a unique departure from the traditional oscillating type. The Frigidaire washers were commonly named for their mechanisms, which underwent frequent changes over the years. The Unimatic was in production the longest, for any single Frigidaire mechanism, from 1947 to 1958. The Pulsamatic mechanism, unique in that it pulsated 630 times per minute, was introduced in 1955 for the lower-end models. This became the foundation for the Multimatic, introduced for the 1959 model year. The Multimatic lasted through 1964, as the Rollermatic was brought out for the 1965 lineup. The Rollermatic was unique in that instead of using an oil-filled gearcase, metal and urethane rollers transferred the power within the mechanism. This underwent a slight revision in 1970 for the new eighteen-pound capacity 1-18, which kept the same basic mechanism but differed in that it was belt-driven off of the motor and added a recirculating pump. Besides the unique action, another notable feature of these older washers was the final, high-speed spin cycle (nicknamed "Rapidry"), 1140 revolutions per minute in the Unimatic, 850 in the Multimatic, and 1010 in the high-end Rollermatic models.
In addition to manufacturing room air conditioners, Frigidaire also provided the factory air conditioning systems for General Motors automobiles. From the 1950s through the 1970s, these units developed a reputation for providing powerful air conditioning systems on virtually all GM cars & trucks from the largest Cadillacs to the small Chevrolet Vega. G.M. also sold Frigidaire auto air conditioning compressors to British Leyland for Jaguar autos and to Rolls Royce for Rolls Royce and Bentley autos.
A new cooktop manufacturing facility opened in the Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial park, southwest of Memphis. The facility is built to LEED certification standards. Workers will manufacture the company's Electrolux ICON, Electrolux and Frigidaire product lines, including drop-in/slide-in ranges, wall ovens, specialty free standing ranges and cook tops. The $190 million, 750,000 square foot Memphis manufacturing plant began production of stoves and ranges in 2013. The plantís research and development center includes the technology and machinery to simulate a stoveís lifetime usage and performance expectations and can test more than 300 products at one time.