59 years of hot stuff: Celebrating the microwave - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

59 years of hot stuff: Celebrating the microwave

59 years after first being made available for the home, microwaves can be found in almost every home and office break room. (Source: WAFF) 59 years after first being made available for the home, microwaves can be found in almost every home and office break room. (Source: WAFF)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

October 25 marks an interesting event in the area of home dining - the anniversary of the first microwave oven for consumer use.

Millions of kitchens and office break rooms throughout the country feature some sort of electronic box that can boil water, reheat leftover dinners and cook fresh meals.

As the story goes, the discovery of microwave technology was accidental, and yet, still involved food.

Percy Spencer of the Raytheon company was working on a military radar device in the mid-1940s when he noticed that a candy bar he brought to the office as a snack had gotten warm and gooey.

His curiosity sparked, Spencer began testing the device on some kernels of popcorn, which promptly burst.

A few years and many prototypes later, the first microwave oven was produced. According to the US Census Bureau, it "cost only a little less than a new car."

Fast-forward a bit, and in 1955, the first consumer models were on store shelves. Even still, they were still bulky and complex enough that they required professional installation. Cost: Around $1,200.

Today, the Census Bureau estimates 9 out of every 10 homes in the country has a microwave oven, due in no small part to the decline in time of size and price.

Microwave ovens and other cooking appliances comprise a $2.5-billion per-year industry in the United States.

Check out this YouTube video: a film documenting cooking throughout history, ending with the "space-age marvel" of the microwave.

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