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9
The Microwave Oven

The First Microwave Ovens

The first microwave ovens were very different from the countertop models we’re familiar with today. In 1947, the Raytheon Company’s first commercial units weighed a whopping 750 pounds (340.91 kg).

­With the introduction of the domestic microwave oven in 1967, the notion of meals in minutes became a reality [source: Idea Finder]. The average microwave can cook meat six times faster than a conventional oven [source: Woodford]. That means less time spent in the kitchen.

Microwaves were used in World War II for radar reconnaissance but weren't adapted for use in cooking until a happy accident occurred in the mid 1940s. Dr. Percy LeBaron Spencer, an employee of the Raytheon Company, accidentally melted a candy bar with radio waves. Microwave ovens use a magnetron tube that generates high-energy, short radio waves that agitate the water molecules in food, cooking it faster and more evenly. Taking advantage of this discovery, Raytheon's Amana division introduced the first commercial microwave in 1954 and followed up with a domestic model in 1967, the ®Radarange. It's estimated that 90 percent of American homes are now equipped with a microwave oven [source: USDA].

Next, we'll move on to one of the more recent inventions to permeate our lives: the computer.

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