Frankenstein's monster.

The Terrifying History of the Thermostat

When you look at your thermostat you’re probably only thinking about the fact that it’s too warm or cold in your home. But do you know how the thermostat was invented—or who its inventor was? Keep reading to learn more about the eerie origins of the man who invented our temperature control system.

An Innovator is Born

Andrew Ure was a Scottish inventor, business theorist, doctor, and astronomer. He was born in 1778 and attended the University of Glasgow to study medicine and was educated at the University of Edinburgh. He worked as an army surgeon, the Professor of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy at Anderson’s Institution (which would later become the University of Strathclyde), and in 1809 was appointed as the first City Astronomer of Glasgow.

By 1830, Ure had published the Dictionary of Chemistry and was now living and working in London where he traveled across England, Belgium, and France visiting textile mills and factories. He wrote The Philosophies of Manufacturers which defended the working conditions of factories and meant to support the managers of factories. After his work in factory conditions, Ure began to experiment with heating and ventilation. Today, he’s credited as being the first person to describe the bi-metallic thermostat.

It’s Alive! (Or Not.)

Ure had many interests and pursuits and often gave scientific lectures that were open to citizens of the city of Glasgow. In one such lecture circa 1818, Ure described some experiments he had recently conducted...experiments on the body of a dead murderer. Ure described his goal to the crowd—by stimulating the phrenic nerve of a corpse, he hoped to bring a dead person back to life.

You read that correctly. Andrew Ure, inventor of the bi-metallic thermostat dabbled in the reanimation of corpses. It’s rumored that Ure’s experiments were the inspiration for Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic, Frankenstein. Obviously, Ure’s experiments were unsuccessful. The furthest he got was shocking his crowd as he administered electrical shocks to the corpse that sent spasms through every muscle in the body and made his face contort into strange expressions.


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