Invention at Play

Inventors’ Stories
Back to Inventors’ Stories

Percy Spencer, Microwave Inventor
< 1 2

Spencer in front of early microwave equipment

Spencer in front of early microwave equipment

More Photography:

Many microwave ovens in store display
Many microwave ovens in store display

What Were the First Microwave Ovens Like?

The first models (so-called radar ranges), marketed in 1947, weighed 750 pounds and stood almost 6 feet tall.

Early microwave ovens were used exclusively in restaurants, railroad cars, and ocean liners--places where large quantities of food had to be cooked quickly.

It was years before microwave ovens were small and practical enough for home use.

The first domestic microwave oven came on the market in 1955. It cost almost $1,300 and was too bulky to fit in the average kitchen. Thanks to the development in Japan of a smaller magnetron, the first compact and practical microwave oven was introduced in 1967 and cost $495.

Today, microwave ovens melt chocolate and pop popcorn in millions of homes around the world.

Next: Continue to next section,“Jump the Tracks”›

skip navigation

Email Kevlar Vest

Kevlar Vest

Email this to a friend!
Send this to your friends so they can learn all about Kevlar, Stephanie Kwolek’s amazing invention.

send to friends

National Museum of American History, Behring Center Invention Playhouse Inventors’ Stories Does play Matter? Exhibit Info Resources Contact Us Site Map Site Credits Lemelson Center