The scroll concept is actually quite old. The initial patents date back to the early 1900s. Unfortunately, the technology to fabricate scrolls accurately did not exist, and the concept was forgotten. In 1972 the scroll concept was re-invented by a physicist named Niels Young. Mr. Young brought the idea to Arthur D. Little, Inc. of Cambridge, MA. Arthur D. Little saw its potential and began development of a feasibility model in January 1973.
The potential and advantages of the scroll compressor were recognized immediately by the refrigeration industry. Because of the tremendous pressure for better efficiency of refrigeration compressors in the early 1970s, there was a strong incentive to pursue the scroll. The scroll compressor offers improved efficiency, with the added benefit of greater reliability, smoother operation, and lower noise. Arthur D. Little began development of a scroll-type compressor for refrigeration for the Trane Co. in late 1973.
Today, scroll compressors are used extensively for refrigeration by many well known companies, including Trane, Hitachi, and Copeland. The development of scroll type compressors for air has not been as rapid. Hitachi and Mitsui Seiki in Japan introduced oil-lubricated scroll air compressors in the late 1980s; however, these units were simply adaptations of their refrigeration compressors.