Air conditioning voted as coolest U.S. idea The top 10 1. Air conditioning. 2. Penicillin. 3. The personal computer. 4. Global positioning satellites. 5. Cell phones. 6. Broadcast television. 7. The Social Security Act. 8. The Internet. 9. Frozen food. 10. The polio vaccine. By Adam Graham The Detroit News November 15, 2004 Never underestimate the value of cool air on a hot day. Air conditioning tops the list of the best ideas and innovations of the past 75 years, according to a nationwide online poll conducted by America Online and The Henry Ford, a museum complex in Dearborn, Mich. A team of historians at The Ford came up with a list of the top 75 ideas and innovations of the past 75 years and let America decide which of those was the most influential to American life. Nearly 2.5 million votes were cast online. Each idea or innovation had to meet the following criteria: be invented by an American (sorry, Velcro); come from the past 75 years, so anything pre-1929 was ineligible; and seriously affect the way we live. "When you look at the list, what people ended up voting for was health, comfort and accessibility," says Patricia Mooradian, Henry Ford chief operating officer. She says she's not surprised at the results and knew that things such as penicillin and the polio vaccine were going to place high on the list (they rank at No. 2 and No. 10, respectively). Leo Landis, a curator at The Henry Ford, says the list reflects Americans' fascination with convenience and health. He says air conditioning has changed our way of life. "We've come to expect levels of comfort that our grandparents weren't accustomed to," Landis says.