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Transcript of Microwave-Cold War
The microwave oven did not come about as a result of someone trying to find a better, faster way to cook. During World War II, two scientists invented the magnetron, a tube that produces microwaves. Installing magnetrons in Britain’s radar system, the microwaves were able to spot Nazi warplanes on their way to bomb the British Isles. By accident, several years later, it was discovered that microwaves also cook food. Called the Radar Range, the first microwave oven to go on the market was roughly as large and heavy as a refrigerator. (Ament, "Microwave Oven History - Invention of the Microwave Oven")
The idea of using microwave energy to cook food was accidentally discovered by Percy LeBaron Spencer of the Raytheon Company when he found that radar waves had melted a candy bar in his pocket. Experiments showed that microwave heating could raise the internal temperature of many foods far more rapidly than a conventional oven.The first Raytheon commercial microwave oven was the 1161 Radarange, which was marketed in 1954. Rated at 1600 watts, it was so large and expensive that it was practical only for restaurant and institutional use. In 1967, Amana, a division of Raytheon, introduced its domestic Radarange microwave oven, marking the beginning of the use of microwave ovens in home kitchens. (Ament, "Microwave Oven History - Invention of the Microwave Oven")
Although sales were slow during the first few years, partially due to the oven’s relatively expensive price tag, the concept of quick microwave cooking had arrived. In succeeding years, Litton and a number of other companies joined the countertop microwave oven market. By the end of 1971, the price of countertop units began to decrease and their capabilities were expanded.(Ament, "Microwave Oven History - Invention of the Microwave Oven")
The microwave oven is now a standard appliance in most American households, but it has only been around since the late 1940s. In 1945, Percy Spencer was experimenting with a new vacuum tube called a magnetron while doing research for the Raytheon Corporation. He was intrigued when the candy bar in his pocket began to melt, so he tried another experiment with popcorn. When it began to pop, Spencer immediately saw the potential in this revolutionary process. In 1947, Raytheon built the first microwave oven, the Radarange, which weighed 750 pounds, was 51/2 feet tall, and cost about $5,000. When the Radarange first became available for home use in the early 1950s, its bulky size and expensive price tag made it unpopular with consumers. But in 1967, a much more popular 100-volt, countertop version was introduced at a price of $495.("9 Things Invented or Discovered by Accident")
Spencer, born in Howland, Maine, was orphaned at a young age. Although he never graduated from grammar school, he became Senior Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors at Raytheon, receiving 150 patents during his career. Because of his accomplishments, Spencer was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the U.S. Navy and has a building named after him at Raytheon. ("Invent Now | Hall of Fame | Search | Inventor Profile")
After several more tests, after Spencer found that it also worked on popcorn, Spencer and his fellow Raytheon scientists were convinced that they had a new invention on their hands. Spencer eventually created a big box that they would place food in for heating. They also discovered that exposure to too much radiation was bad for people. The first microwave ovens looked like a cross between regular oven and a refrigerator. They were 5 feet tall and required a water pipe connection to cool the magnetron after use. Not too many bought those first microwave ovens, but some did. Scientists kept experimenting and refining what they had. Finally, in the 1960s, the small countertop version that we know today was introduced.(White, "The Invention of the Microwave Oven")
(Percy Lebaron Spencer)
(microwave | Baconation.)
(Inventions that Changed the World)
(MICROWAVE OVEN INVENTION)
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The Editors of Publications International, Ltd. "9 Things Invented or Discovered by Accident." HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks, 2013. Web. 05 Dec. 2013.
"Invent Now | Hall of Fame | Search | Inventor Profile." Invent Now | Hall of Fame | Search | Inventor Profile. National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation, 2000. Web. 05 Dec. 2013.
The Microwave. Digital image. Content Lobby. Content Lobby, 2007. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
Percy Lebaron Spencer. Digital image. Invent Now. National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation, 2000. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
White, David. "The Invention of the Microwave Oven." The Invention of the Microwave Oven. N.p., 2002. Web. 05 Dec. 2013.