John Standard

Meet John Standard: Inventor of a Better Refrigerator

John Standard
John Standard - Refrigerator Design. USPTO

An improved refrigerator design was patented by African-American inventor John Standard of Newark, New Jersey, on June 14,​ 1891 (U.S. patent #455,891). Standard was also received U.S. patent #413,689 on October 29, 1889, for an improved oil stove.


In his patent for the refrigerator, Standard declared, "this invention relates to improvements in refrigerators; and it consists of certain novel arrangements and combinations of parts." John Standard was saying that he had found a way to improve the design of refrigerators.

A non-electrical and unpowered design, Standard's refrigerator made in 1891 used a manually-filled ice chamber for chilling.

Oil Stove

John Standard's oil stove was a space-saving design that he suggested could be used for buffet style meals on trains.

History of the Refrigerator

Contrary to popular folklore John Standard did not invent the very first refrigerator, however, every patent represents something that has not be done before and most utility patents are issued for what is called an "improvement." Improvements are the work of inventors and often it is the improved design that succeeds.

Life and Death

John Standard was born on June 15, 1868, in Newark, New Jersey, to Mary and Joseph Standard. He died around 1900. Not much else is known about him though besides that he improved the oil stove and refrigerator.