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Making Waves

October 25, 2014

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Profile America — Saturday, October 25th. A melted candy bar led to the invention of one of today's most-used kitchen appliances. Percy Spencer of the Raytheon company was working on a military radar device in the mid-1940s when he noticed that his snack had gotten soft. Intrigued, he experimented with irradiating some kernels of popcorn, which promptly burst. Further work led to the first microwave ovens, which cost only a little less than a new car. On this date in 1955, the first consumer models were introduced, but they required installation and cost $1,200. Countertop models came along in 1967. Now, more than nine out of 10 homes across the country have microwave ovens, and manufacturing microwave ovens and other electric cooking ranges is a nearly $2.5 billion a year business. Profile America is in its17th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Kane's Famous First Facts, 4303
Microwave inventor
Inflation calculator
First consumer model and cost
2012 Economic Census data on electric cooking appliances NAICS 335221

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | Last Revised: October 01, 2014