A microwave is a modern convenience that we rarely think twice about. We use it daily to pop popcorn, heat water for tea, and warm up a piece of leftover pizza. We’ve gotten used to the convenience of having a microwave very quickly, but microwaves actually haven’t been around for all that long. Just a few generations ago, this convenience had not yet been invented. Read on to learn some more interesting facts about microwaves.
- When did microwave history begin? The first microwave was created in 1946.
- Microware became popular. In 1994, 90% of American homes had microwaves.
- How tall was first microwave? The first microwave ever made was 6 feet tall.
- Very heavy. The first microwave ever made weighed 750 pounds.
- Expensive price. The first microwave cost $5,000.
- What was primary cooler of first microwave? The first microwave was cooled by water.
- The first microwave was invented by accident during World War II. An engineer at Raytheon Corp. was working with a vacuum tube known as a magnetron, which produced microwave radiation that was used by radar equipment to detect ships and aircraft. The engineer, Percy LeBaron Spencer, had a candy bar in his pocket while he was working with the magnetron. He realized that the radiation from the magnetron melted his candy bar. He decided to test it with other foods. He placed popcorn next to it, which popped instantly. An egg cooked so quickly that it exploded. Spencer realized that he needed to develop a box to house the radiation. Thanks to Spencer’s developments, Raytheon Corp. developed the first commercial microwave.
- The first commercial microwave oven, called Radarange, was released by Raytheon Corp. in 1947. At that time, it was only sold to restaurants and commercial food companies.
- Microwaves were not an instant success. Improvements were made to the initial model. It got smaller, lighter, and was cooled by air instead of water. The price began to fall, and more companies began making microwaves. By 1954, the cost of a microwave oven dropped from $5,000 to between $2,000 and $3,000.
- The first microwave that was developed for home use was released by Tappan in 1952. This microwave was about the same size as a cooking range. It was priced at $1,295, but fared quite poorly. The first home microwave oven that succeeded commercially was the Amana Radarange. It was released in 1967, and cost $495.
- Microwave was popular. By 1976, there were microwaves in 60% of American homes.
- Microwaves work by increasing thermal energy, causing molecules to vibrate. Water is most susceptible to this process. Oils do not contain enough water to be affected by this process; you can’t heat oil in a microwave.
- Radiation. The radiation used in microwave ovens is also used in cell phones, radar, and speed cameras.
- Microwaves are safe to use. There are standards enforced by the FDA that regulate how much radiation can be produced by microwaves. The limit is 5 milliwatts of microwave radiation per square centimeter. This is well below the level that is thought to be harmful to people.
- Metal reflects the waves in a microwave. Thin pieces of metal, like aluminum foil or a fork, act like an antenna inside a microwave. As a result, the waves of the microwave can arc off of the aluminum foil and create sparks.
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