I was born in Upstate New York and never had a/c. We barely even had heat (old radiator type) but when I moved to Florida in '79 I have never lived in a placewith out it. Some had old window shakers but atleast there was always some type of cooling. Hell, even when I worked on the boats commercial fishing for 10 years, half of them had a/c in the cabin.
I didn't live in a house that even had ductwork til I was 24,they either hot water or steam, but as a kid growing up it was space heaters in cramped little apartments. Hard to tell how many brain cells I lost due to CO while growing up, luckily the houses were pretty porous and not sealed up like todays homes.
When we got married in 1967 we got an apartment on Broardway in the city of Rennsellaer New York. The rent was $60. dollars a month which included steam heat. Unfortunately it was a second floor apartment. Not far from the Hudson River so the humidity was like 300% in the summer. Plus it was on the main throughtafare so we couldn't open the front windows.
Being a newly wed I wanted some at least every night so I sprung for a 6,000 BTU unit for the play room. (bedroom).
It cost over a hundred dollars back then.
My mother had central A/C put in our ranch house in 1973 because my father was ill. It was a Spacepak high velocity system which worked very well for 31 years. I bought the house from my mom in 1982, and was nursing the A/C along for the last 5 years or so, but this year I finally bit the bullet, and replaced the entire system. I hope my new one lasts as long...