Born into slavery on August 3, 1859, in Savannah, Missouri, Baker's early years were shaped by the loss of his mother at just three months old. Raised by Sallie Mackay, the wife of his owner, and his father, Abraham Baker, he grew up alongside his siblings Susie, Peter, Annie, and Ellen, who were freed after the Civil War. Despite the challenges he faced, Baker pursued an education at Franklin College, where he developed a keen interest in mechanical sciences.
It was through years of persistent effort that Baker focused on inventing a groundbreaking product. He experimented with various forms of friction, including the mechanical rubbing of bricks and different types of metals. After twenty-three years of dedicated work, he achieved the perfect design: two metal cylinders, one nestled within the other, with a wooden core that spun at the center to generate friction. This invention served as the cornerstone of his heating/radiator system.
In 1904, Baker, along with several other individuals, established the Friction Heat & Boiler Company in St. Joseph. He played an instrumental role as a member of the board of directors, overseeing the manufacturing of his innovative heater. The company thrived, accumulating an impressive capital of $136,000, which equates to nearly $4 million in today's currency.
Baker confidently claimed that the power source driving the friction was not limited to any specific mode. It could be wind, water, gasoline, or any other energy source. One of the most challenging aspects of his invention was proving that his system could effectively light and heat a house at approximately half the cost of existing methods.
Here he stand with another man (possibly his brother, Peter) with his invention, Super Heating Union, taken in St. Joseph, Missouri, Feb. 12, 1906.
Charles S. L. Baker's journey as an inventor and entrepreneur exemplifies perseverance and ingenuity. His groundbreaking achievements in the field of mechanical sciences continue to inspire and pave the way for advancements in heating and energy efficiency.