The Accidental Invention of Dr. Percy Spencer
by Daniel Granados
Percy Spencer was born in Howland, Maine on July 19, 1894. His father died and his mother left him with his poor aunt and uncle to take care of him. When he was a teenager, he had a job installing electical power in buildings and he realiezed that he liked electronics.
After he left the Navy he worked at a company called Reytheon that built magnetrons, a tube used to track enemy planes during world war II. When he was in the middle of building one the these machines, he discovered the power of the radiaton from the magnetron when a chocolate bar in his pocket melted as he walked by.
Percy Spencer decided to see what else the radiation power could do. He tried popping corn kernels and cooking an egg and it worked. He found out that the power was too strong for some things to cook when the egg exploded all over him.
In 1945 He put together the drawings to build a microwave and two years later the world's first , Radarange was built. It cost $2,000 to $3,000 about $16,000 to $24,000 in today's money. It was as big and as heavy as a fridge and was used in restaurants.
The first microwave to use in the home was sold in 1955 for $1,295 about $10,500 in today's money. As time went on, people found out that the microwave could be used for many things other than cooking. The microwave heat could be used to dry wet paper, leather, coffee beans, peanuts, cloth and tile used for floors.
Percy Spencer died in 1970 at the age of 76 years old. He became a member of the National Inventors Hall of fame in 1999.