Today is the anniversary of the day the first consumer microwave oven went on sale, back in 1955. But the microwave has roots that go back well before that, and it’s at least in part a byproduct of radar technology from World War II. Plus: Los Alamos, New Mexico is trying to break a world record for simultaneous pumpkin carving.
A Brief History of the Microwave Oven (IEEE.org)
“Carving out” a moment in history (Los Alamos Arts Council)
It’s October 25th, the anniversary of the day the first consumer microwave oven went on sale, back in 1955.
The Tappan RL-1 had to be mounted in the wall and had a price tag worth about $11,000 of today’s money.
It wasn’t a big seller at first, but even back then people knew the technology had a lot of potential.
The microwave oven is, at least in party, a byproduct of radar technology from World War II.
An engineer for Raytheon, Percy Spencer, was at a lab that was testing magnetrons, which generated the radio waves that powered the radar systems.
The story goes that as he watched the magnetrons do their thing, a candy bar in his pocket began to melt.
He decided to test other foods to see if they’d cook. Popcorn worked well; eggs, not so much.
These weren’t the first attempts at microwave cooking, but they did lead to the first large-scale efforts to sell microwave devices as kitchens.
Size was an issue for decades, so they were mostly found in commercial kitchens.
And initially a lot of consumers worried the ovens might generate harmful radiation, which research says isn’t the case.
By the mid 1980s some 90 percent of US households had microwave ovens.
And their future is probably secure, at least as long as we continue to need to heat up leftovers and frozen burritos as fast as possible.
This weekend in Los Alamos, New Mexico, people are gathering to break a world record for simultaneous pumpkin carving.
The current record holder is Rio Rancho, New Mexico, just down the road, which had 1,060 concurrent carvers in 2013.
And yes, they said they’re looking to “smash” the pumpkin record. Alert Billy Corgan.