Fascinating facts about Percy Lebaron Spencer
the Microwave Oven in 1945.
invent. First to patent. Modern prototype.
1894 in Howland, Maine
Shortly after the end of World War II, Percy Spencer, already known as an
electronics genius and war hero, was touring one of his laboratories at the Raytheon
Company. He stopped momentarily in front of a magnetron, the power tube that drives a
radar set. Feeling a sudden and strange sensation, Spencer noticed that the chocolate bar
in his pocket had begun to melt.
Spencer, who obtained 120 patents in his
lifetime, knew how to apply his curiosity. So he did what any good inventor would -- he
went for some popcorn. Spencer didn't feel like a snack, he asked for unpopped popcorn.
Holding the bag of corn next to the magnetron, Spencer watched as the kernels exploded
into puffy white morsels.
From this simple experiment, Spencer and Raytheon
developed the microwave oven. The first microwave oven weighed a hefty 750 pounds and
stood five feet, six inches. At first, it was used exclusively in restaurants, railroad
cars and ocean liners -- places where large quantities of food had to be cooked quickly.
But culinary experts quickly noticed the oven's
shortcomings. Meat refused to brown. French fries turned white and limp. To make matters
worse, Raytheon chairman Charles Adams' cook quit because Adams demanded he prepare food
with a microwave oven.
In fact, it took decades after the invention of the
microwave oven for it to be refined to a point where it would be useful to the average
consumer. Today, Percy Spencer's radar boxes melt chocolate and pop popcorn in millions of
homes around the world.
TO LEARN MORE
the Microwave Oven
The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
That Shaped World History
by Bill Yenne, Morton, Dr. Grosser (Editor) / Paperback - 112 pages (1983) / Bluewood Books
This book contains inventions from all around the world from microchips to fire. This is a
really good book if you are going to do research on inventions.
Happen: 50 Inventions Discovered by Mistake
by Charlotte Foltz Jones, John O'Brien (Illustrator) / Hardcover - 86 pages
(1996) / Delacorte
Fifty inventions discovered by mistake receive entertaining cartoon embellishment but are
actually serious subjects which will delight and entertain kids.
Kid Who Invented the Popsicle: And Other Surprising Stories About Inventions
by Don L. Wulffson / Paperback - 128 pages (1999) / Puffin
Brief factual stories about how various familiar things were invented, many by accident,
from animal crackers to the zipper.
More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open
Hearth to the Microwave
by Ruth Schwartz Cowan / Paperback Reprint edition (February 1985) / Basic Books (Sd)
Inventions such as washing machines, cotton cloth, and even white flour acted as catalysts
by giving the less well-off a chance at the comforts the prosperous already possessed, but
in general it was men and children whose chores were relieved by these innovations.
ON THE WEB:
Raytheon: A History of Global Technology Leadership
Raytheons discovery of microwave cooking in 1945 was initially an accident, but its
development, like so many others, can be credited to Percy Spencer. Spencer was the first,
however, to discover that one could cook food using microwave radio signals.
Inventors Hall of Fame
Located at Inventure Place, the online home of creative minds. Inducted Percy
Lebaron Spencer in 1999 for his invention of the High Efficiency Magnetron (Patent Number
Dimension - Inventor of the Week
Celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual
awards to inspire a new generation of American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.
Featured Percy Spencer in May, 1966 for his invention of the Mictowave Oven.
The Amana Story
In 1967, the company revolutionized the way America cooks with the introduction of the
Amana Radarange® the first countertop microwave oven for the home.
History of the Microwave Oven
Like many of today's great inventions, the microwave oven was a by-product of another
WORDS OF WISDOM:
"He has the respect of every
physicist in the country, not only for his ingenuity but for what he has
learned about physics by absorbing it through his skin. He is not merely
a good experimenter and a good designer; he has become, in his own
right, one of the recognized individuals in a very difficult field."
- Vannevar Bush
DID YOU KNOW?:
- In 1947, Raytheon demonstrated the worlds first
microwave oven and called it a "Radarange," the winning name in an employee
- 1947 - Raytheon builds its first microwave oven. Weighing
over 750 pounds and standing over five feet tall, the oven is limited to commercial use.
- 1967 - Using Raytheons microwave cooking technology,
Amana introduces the worlds first successful 115-volt countertop microwave oven for
- Microwave ovens are now found in over 90% of US homes
- The first microwave oven weighed over 750 pounds and stode
over five feet tall.
- Housed in refrigerator-sized cabinets, the first microwave
ovens cost between $2,000 and $3,000 and were sold by Raytheon primarily to the commercial
Sources in BOLD Type
page revised October 20, 2006.
Berners-Lee's invention has revolutionized the world like nothing
The invention of the Internet,
should be classed with the greatest events of the 20th Century.
The Aero Sport All-Terrain Bed
with Dual Power Pump is the perfect addition to any camping trip or weekend
book, is the perfect desktop reference for both the science novice and the
technologically advanced reader alike.
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